South Africa's Five-Month Platinum Strike 'Officially Over'
The five-month platinum strike that has plagued South African workers and platinum producers has officially ended.
On Monday, South Africa’s AMCU union declared the platinum strike ‘officially over’ as thousands of miners rejoiced.
“Today we are creating a historic day in the mining sector,” Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union told the crowd of miners. “The platinum sector will never be the same. What other unions have failed to do over many years, you have achieved in five months.”
The five-month strike first began Jan.23 as 70,000 workers put down their tools to demand higher wages and benefits.
The AMCU had initially demanded wages to be raised to US$1,200 a month. Members of the union, however, settled for three-year deals that amount to monthly increases of 20 percent, approximately US$1,150 a month.
“I'm very glad the strike is over, because we made a terrible wound in the South African economy and we are happy to heal that wound. Our children are suffering because they had no food,” Lucas Makgwe, a miner at Amplats told reporters at the gathering on Monday.
The companies involved in the strike - Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum –have lost several billion dollars in revenue during the work stoppage.
Although the resolution of the platinum strike is a welcomed one, the sector also faces a painful restructuring with job cuts almost inevitable. This could also trigger a further wave of walkouts or violence.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.