South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) will not return to work at Northam Platinum’s violence-hit Zondereinde mine before they receive assurances over security from police and the company, a spokesman for the union said on Thursday.
The platinum producer suspended operations at the mine on Monday after a worker was fatally stabbed at the mine site when members of NUM clashed with the rival Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).
That clash was triggered by the murder of a NUM member on Sunday, the sixth over the past 12 months or so, according to the union.
“Whether the workers will go to work, that decision will be taken on Tuesday,” union spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said.
Northam chief executive Paul Dunne, speaking to Reuters near the mine after a meeting with mining minister Mosebenzi Zwane, said union conflict was a “deep-rooted” issue at Zondereinde mine and would not be resolved in a week.
“It’s not conducive to production. There is a deep rooted issue and it won’t be solved in a week but we are making steps towards it,” Dunne said.
Zwane evoked the Marikana massacre of 2012, when police shot dead 34 striking miners at the Lonmin, platinum mine of that name, telling reporters a repeat of that kind of incident had to “be avoided.”
The mine, which produces around 300,000 ounces a year and accounts for 70 percent of the mid-tier producer’s revenue, remained closed for a fourth day. Northam shares lost 2 percent to close at 43.25 rand on Thursday.