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Over 2,000 SA Miners in New Underground Protest

Over 2,000 SA Miners in New Underground Protest

In the latest blow to South Africa’s vital mining sector, more than 2,200 platinum miners initiated the fourth underground protest within the span of two months. Operations came to a halt in two shafts at the Bafokeng Rasimone mine, located northwest of Johannesburg, as a result of what the mine’s owners are categorizing as an “illegal underground protest.”

Impala Platinum Holdings, globally recognized as Implats and a key player in the platinum industry, reported that 2,205 miners had actively participated in the protest. The company released a statement acknowledging the protest’s occurrence, indicating that the exact reasons for the demonstration are “still to be determined.” Implats assured that they are closely monitoring the unfolding events.

Read also: Minister Ramokgopa Warns of Potential Load Shedding

As a precautionary measure, the mining giant proactively suspended operations at the affected shafts and evacuated all employees from the underground working areas. Authorities have been notified to ensure the safety of the miners still below ground. Implats, in its official statement, warned that it would take decisive action against employees engaged in “illegal conduct and criminal acts.”

This incident is part of a concerning trend, with South Africa witnessing a surge in wildcat strikes where miners take control of the mines, disrupting production. The company expressed its unease, stating, “Illegal underground protests and copycat illegal actions … have become more prevalent in recent months and are a cause for both considerable concern and disruption to the broader mining industry.”

In October, over 100 gold miners staged a nearly three-day underground protest in Springs near Johannesburg due to a dispute between rival unions. Subsequently, in another gold mine this month, 440 miners participated in a protest, while concurrently, 250 platinum workers demanding better wages occupied a shaft for three days.

The mining sector is a cornerstone of South Africa’s economy, employing hundreds of thousands of people. The country stands as the largest exporter of platinum and a significant exporter of gold, diamonds, coal, and other raw materials. The recurring disruptions in the mining industry pose a multifaceted challenge to both the companies involved and the broader national economy.

This ongoing series of protests raises pertinent questions about the root causes, the efficacy of current labor relations, and the sustainability of the mining industry in the face of such disruptions. As stakeholders seek answers, the South African mining landscape remains in a state of flux, with implications for both local and global markets.

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