MARIKANA, South Africa, Aug 20 – Embattled platinum miner Lonmin said Monday it had reopened its facility in South Africa after an 11-day wildcat strike that left 44 dead, most of them gunned down by police.
“Lonmin can confirm that work at its Marikana operations resumed today as significant numbers of employees returned to work. Almost one third of the 28,000-strong workforce reported for their morning shifts on Monday,” it said in a statement.
The world’s third-largest platinum producer had pulled down its shutters last week after 3,000 rock drill operators embarked on a violent strike that initially claimed 10 lives before police shot dead 34 of the protesters last Thursday.
The company at the weekend urged its 25,000 non-striking workers and 10,000 contractors to return to the job, insisting they will be safe.
About 27 percent of the workforce reported for the morning shift Monday, it said.
Lonmin’s executive vice president for mining, Mark Munroe, in a statememnt after talks with union representatives, acknowledged the tragedy but stressed the need to return to normal.
“What has happened here has been a tragedy, and the pain and anger it has led to will take time to heal,” said Munroe.
“But those representing the vast majority of our workforce have been clear again in our discussions today that we need to try to return to some kind of normality as we go through that healing process.
“Tens of thousands of people’s livelihoods rely on Lonmin, as well as much of the local infrastructure we provide in terms of health, water, education and housing.”