Worker unrest spreads as Anglo American closes platinum mine

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Anglo American Platinum has been forced to suspend its Rustenberg platinum operations in South Africa as unrest among miners spread yesterday.

Amplats is the world's largest platinum producer, accounting for 40 per cent of global output.

About 1,500 protesters were demonstrating outside its Bathopele mine, in Rustenberg, north of Johannesburg, calling for its immediate shutdown. At Lonmin's nearby Marikana platinum mine, where 44 people have been killed in unrest recently, just 0.7 per cent of the workforce turned up.

Platinum prices hit a five-month high, although analysts noted a heavy surplus of the metal, used in industry and jewellery.

Amplats said the longer its mines were shut down "the greater the risk was to their long-term viability".