JOHANNESBURG, March 25- South Africa’s platinum producers Monday said a two month strike was causing “irreparable” damage to the sector, which has to date lost nearly a billion dollars in revenue.
The strike over wages which started over eight weeks ago has halted production at the world’s top three producers, Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin.
“The extended strike in the platinum belt is unprecedented, and at a stage where some of its impacts are becoming irreparable,” the chief executives of the three companies said in a joint statement.
They said the strike has so far resulted in “close to 10 billion rand ($920 million) in revenue lost.”
Employees have lost around 4.4 billion rand ($406 million) in earnings, they said.
“Mines and shafts are becoming unviable; people are hungry; children are not going to school; businesses are closing and crime in the platinum belt is increasing,” the statement said.
Tens of thousands of members of the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) downed tools on January 23, demanding that their minimum wage be doubled.
The platinum companies have maintained that the demand is simply not affordable and have suggested staggered increases of seven to nine percent over the next three years, which the union has rejected.
South Africa holds around 80 percent of the world’s known platinum reserves.