[heading]South African Military Deployed As Miners Return To South African Platinum Mines[/heading]
When the violence at the platinum mines broke out in 2012, the future of the platinum price was fundamentally changed. The already small supply was decreased by the turmoil, and now, halfway through 2014, platinum and palladium – both considered industrial metals – have out-performed both gold and silver, to the surprise of many.
Today, workers are returning to the platinum mines. And the South African government is deploying police and military.
South Africa has sent police and military to the strike-hit platinum belt on Tuesday as miners return to work this week after producers moved to end the sector’s longest and costliest industrial action.
The four-month strike halted 40 percent of normal global platinum production, which is the rarest precious metal as is. This hurt Africa’s “most advanced economy” which had already been sluggish.
It is not clear how many workers will be coming back but platinum firms say a majority of the 70,000 workeres they contacted directly wish to end the strike.
Armored police vehicles were stationed outside Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine, which was where 34 striking miners were killed in 2012.
Producers maintain the strike has cost them 17 billion rand ($1.64 billion) in lost revenues and employees have lost nearly 8 billion rand in earnings.
Leaders of the strike claim that most striking members are not happy with the latest offer of up to a 10% increase in wages. Companies say that would raise the overall minimum pay package to 12,500 rand ($1,200) a month by July 2017, including cash allowances for things like housing.
But the deal is not close to being sealed.
“We have remained so far apart. A deal with AMCU at this point in time seems completely out of the question,” Amplats chief executive Chris Griffith told private radio station Talk Radio 702.
Palladium prices have risen to a nearly three-year high and platinum surged Wednesday due to tensions at the South African mines.
Expect the prices to continue to rise as tensions increase over the coming years.