Lonmin Hopes Workers Resume Duty Today

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VENTURES AFRICA – British platinum producer Lonmin Plc, is hopeful a big chunk of its 28,000 workforce will resume duty today at its Marikana Mine in South Africa, after a two week strike that turned violent, bringing production to a halt.

“We are quite upbeat. We are hopeful we will get more workers tomorrow,” said Sue Vey in media reports.

The firm said 57 percent of workers reported for duty over the weekend.

“Eastern shafts are working this weekend and we have 57 percent attendance across these shafts. The rest of the mine is closed as this is their off-weekend,” Lonmin said in a statement.

The numbers are however short of what is needed to start pulling ore from the earth. The firm reportedly needs at least 80 percent of the 28,000 workforce to extract ore from the ground.

“Mining operations will only resume once we have sufficient workers in attendance and the necessary safety procedures have been undertaken,” Lonmin said on Friday.

Lonmin accounts for about 12 percent of global platinum output. The company earlier expressed fears it may not meet its annual production target of 750 000 ounces.

Operations at the Marikana mine were paralyzed early this month after 3,000 rock drill operators launched a strike demanding a pay rise to 12,500 rand a month ($1,505). On August 16th police used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse workers gathered on a hilltop near the mine, killing 34 workers and injuring 78 others.

Lonmin said its management would support efforts to reach a peace accord.

“We are dealing with tragic and challenging issues, and will be for a long time to come, but for the sake of the Company, its many thousands of employees and the industry which supports them we need to find a sustainable peace accord which allows people to return to a working business. That we are committed to doing in the coming days,”said Lonmin acting chief executive, Simon Scott.

The firm also said that it would discuss the strikers’ demands in the normal way, through their unions within the agreements which the company and all unions involved have signed up to.