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South Africa: Mine shut down after unrest

Operations were halted “to ensure the safety and security of employees and assets”.

FILE: Striking workers at the Blesbok Stadium of the Anglo Platinum mine near Rustenburg, South Africa
FILE: Striking workers at the Blesbok Stadium of the Anglo Platinum mine near Rustenburg, South Africa
Image: Denis Farrell/AP/Press Association Images

THE WORLD’S NUMBER four platinum producer Aquarius Platinum halted operations today at a South African mine as rising unrest also forced top ferrochrome company Xstrata to shut down a chrome plant.

Police used stun grenades to disperse 1,500 protesters who had gathered at Aquarius and arrested seven people after the government announced a crackdown on the growing labour troubles in the key mining sector.

Aquarius said:

The decision to suspend mining operations has been taken to ensure the safety and security of employees and assets given the rising tensions and protests within the regional workforce and communities.

Brigadier Thulani Ngubane told AFP that “police used stun grenades and the crowd dispersed”.

Seven people were arrested and charged under the illegal gathering act.

Xstrata Alloys and Aquarius halted work in the mineral rich Rustenburg region where operations by top global platinum producer Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and number three company Lonmin have already been shuttered.

Xtrata, the world’s top ferrochrome producer, said it evacuated all staff at the Kroondal chrome mine as a safety precaution due to the increased protests.

The evacuation has been completed without incident. No other Xstrata operations are affected.

Amplats halted operations at five mines in the area on Wednesday over safety concerns after staff were intimidated with threats of violence, while the paralysed Lonmin reported a 0.31 percent worker turnout today.

Aquarius said it expects operations will start up again at the Kroondal mine from Sunday evening but that the situation will be closely monitored.

The strikes have spilled over to platinum and gold mines from a bitter wage battle at Lonmin where a wildcat strike started last month and exploded into violence that has killed 45 people.

- © AFP, 2012

Read: South Africa to start releasing arrested miners>

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