World Bulletin/News Desk
Two South African mines reopened on Monday after labour strife forced them to suspend operations last week, but striking miners vowed to keep operations run by world No. 1 platinum producer Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) shut.
Wage talks were set to resume in a bid to end a violent 5-week strike that has killed 45 people around the Marikana mine of platinum producer Lonmin, bringing its production to a halt and pushing up the price of the precious white metal.
The unrest has its roots in a bloody turf war for members between an upstart union and the dominant National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) but it is now unclear who the strikers are taking their direction from.
Police used tear gas and rubber bullets over the weekend as part of an operation to disarm miners, implementing the government's decision to get tough on strikes that choked off platinum output in the world's top producer. The army has also been brought in to help restore order.
Aquarius Platinum's Kroondal mine and Xstrata's chrome operation near the platinum belt city of Rustenburg restarted on Monday. Aquarius' shares in Johannesburg were up more than 12 percent by 1200 GMT.
Amplats said work at its Rustenburg mines would resume on Tuesday, a move dismissed by one workers' representative as a "joke". The unrest and illegal strikes have spread from Marikana to Rustenburg along the restive platinum belt.
"For us, the reality is that the general strike is on," Mametlwe Sebei, a self-styled Rustenburg community leader and Marxist politician, told Reuters. "We are going to be demonstrating in defiance. We will not be intimidated."
Amplats management was "whistling in the dark" if it believed the mines would reopen on Tuesday, he said.
"They can deploy the army, they can be shooting people, shooting old men in their shacks, tear gassing young kids ... but let us be clear, there will be repercussions," he said.
A spokesman for Xstrata Alloys said miners returning to work in Rustenburg on Monday had been subjected to intimidation by striking colleagues and that the atmosphere remained tense.
"As our employees were coming to work, there has been intimidation which is all over Rustenburg," said Christopher Tsatsawane said.
Xstrata and other platinum mines in the area have been hit by wildcat strikes since police killed 34 miners at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine on Aug. 16. All of Lonmin's mines remain closed.
South Africa is home to 80 percent of known reserves of platinum, the price of which has gained nearly 20 percent since the Marikana shootings, the bloodiest security incident since the end of apartheid in 1994. The sector accounts for 6 percent of South Africa's economy, the biggest in Africa.
Police raided a Lonmin hostel on Saturday and seized spears, machetes and other weapons from strikers. They later used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse groups of protesters.
Lonmin said mining activity at Marikana remained minimal and lowered its full-year production guidance to between 685,000 and 700,000 saleable ounces from 750,000 ounces.
Lonmin said on Monday it was temporarily closing its K4 shaft. That ends a contract with construction group Murray & Roberts that supplied about 1,200 staff to that shaft.
On Friday, workers at the mine dismissed an initial Lonmin offer as way below the 12,500 rand ($1,500) a month sought by members of the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which is challenging the influence of the more established NUM.
Lonmin, which is offering increases of between 9 and 21 percent, said 12,500 rand would put thousands of jobs at risk and challenge the viability of the business.
The ruling African National Congress has become increasingly worried about the impact of the unrest on the wider economy.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said it could be "extremely damaging", although in an interview with Reuters on Sunday he said there was no need yet to revise the outlook for the country's fiscal performance for this year.
The ANC criticised companies for paying lip service to the mining charter, which seeks to give workers and communities a bigger share of mineral wealth and rectify disparities of white apartheid rule by improving their living and working conditions.
"Mining remains the bedrock of the South African economy, and yet the abject poverty and squalor surrounding mining areas remains a matter of deep concern," it said in a statement.
"The current instability at Marikana thus poses challenges to the growth of the sector and the international image of the country," the ANC said.
Data show estimated net migration numbers reached a record 336,000 as of June 2015
Buhari, who came to power in May, has made crushing the six-year rebellion a priority and in August gave his military commanders until the year-end to defeat the extremists
'The god whom we seek to serve is a god of peace. His holy name must never be used to justify hatred and violence,' Pope Francis says
Sacking of French Muslim social worker for wearing religious garb did not violate freedom-of-religion law, says court
The toll is 18 dead, 11 hurt, almost 100 homes burned down in the village of Wogom
'We still have not heard any articulate apologies from Turkey's highest political level nor any proposals to compensate for the harm and damage,' says Russian president
Francois Hollande and Matteo Renzi also discuss fight against ISIL and the situation in Libya
At least 277 people have been killed in Burundi since the outbreak of the political and security crisis in April 2015, the UN has said in a statement
Cameron said that it was in Britain's national security interests to strike ISIL extremists and deny them a 'safe haven' in Syria
South Africa has agreed to enforce a Turkish court’s warrants for four ex-Israeli military commanders involved in the 2010 deadly Mavi Marmara attack, police say
Economic penalties also target businessman representing Assad regime 'business and financial interests in Russia,' says Treasury Dept.
Russia is continuing its retaliation to the downing of the Russian jet with reports claiming that Russian customs turning back Turkish travellers
The Western Balkans is at the heart of battle against terrorism, radicalization, says European Council president
'What's most important for Canada is that we continue to be a strong player within the coalition against ISIL, also in terms of military engagement,' PM Trudeau says
The United Arab Emirates has secretly dispatched hundreds of Colombian mercenaries to Yemen to fight in that country’s raging conflict, adding a volatile new element in a complex proxy war that has drawn in the United States and Iran.
President Mustafa Akinci says more progress made in last five months than previous 47 years