James Moore: As mine protests spread, so will the solution

OutlookIt's not just platinum miners that are revolting (if you're a mining executive). Now gold's getting tarnished by industrial unrest too. The fires lit by the platinum miners at Marikana are spreading, and AngloGold is the latest to feel their heat.

The political backdrop against which this is playing is toxic. Miners on the ground feel betrayed by union leaders. They look at those leaders, their politicians, and at their bosses and they perceive a cosy triumvirate that is getting fat off their labour.

Miners might well be in a fortunate position compared with their countrymen who are forced to hang around on the street corners of Johannesburg in the hope that someone will stop by with an offer of work. But with food prices steadily rising again and several hungry mouths to feed many of them are feeling the pinch.

The solution for AngloGold's parent, Anglo American, is simple. It should follow Lonmin's example at Marikana and pay up before a bad situation deteriorates.

Sure there'll be some bitching in the City. But is a lot easier for a multi-millionaire executive to deal with bitching from analysts than it is for a miner to placate a hungry family whose spending power is getting eaten away by inflation in global food prices.