Strikers force closure of Anglo American Platinum
Machete-wielding strikers forced top world platinum producer Anglo American Platinum to shut down some of its South African operations yesterday, widening the labour unrest sweeping through the country’s mining industry.
A column of 1,500 chanting marchers confronted a small group of riot police backed by armoured vehicles at the gates of the firm’s Bathopele shaft in the “platinum belt” near Rustenburg, 100km northwest of Johannesburg.
The protesters jeered workers inside the plant, a repeat of action taken on Monday at rival Lonmin’s neighbouring Marikana mine, where police shot dead 34 striking miners last month.
“All of us, we’re going to close all the operations, starting from Rustenburg. We’ll go even to the gold mines to stop the operations,” said marcher Evans Ramokga.
South Africa is home to 80 per cent of known reserves of platinum, the price of which has gained nearly 20 per cent since the Marikana shootings, the bloodiest security incident since the end of apartheid in 1994.
The rand also dropped as much as 2.5 per cent against the dollar.