Strikes force Amplats to halt South African platinum operations

Anglo American Platinum has been forced to suspend its Rustenberg platinum operations in South Africa amid spreading unrest among miners calling for higher wages.

Amplats, 80 per cent owned by the giant Anglo American, is the world's largest platinum producer, accounting for 40 per cent of global output.

About 1,500 protesters demonstrated outside its Bathopele mine, in Rustenberg, north of Johannesburg, yesterday, 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 have hit a five-month high of $1,639.49, although analysts noted that there is more than a year's surplus of the metal, which is used in industry and jewellery.

Amplats said the longer the shutdown of its mines, "the greater the risk to their long-term viability".

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