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.
Global iron ore production to recover by 5.1% in 2021
Global iron ore production fell by 3% to 2.2bnt in 2020. Global production is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.7% to 2,663.4Mt between 2021 to 2025. The key contributors to this grow will be Brazil (6.2%), South Africa (4.1%), Australia (3.2%) and India (2.9%). Key upcoming projects expected to commence operations include South Flank in Australia (2021), Zulti in South Africa (H2 2021), Serrote Da Laje in Brazil (H2 2021) and Gudai-Darri (2022), according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, comments: “Declines from Brazil and India were major contributors to the reduced output in 2020. Combined production from these two countries fell from a collective 638.2Mt in 2019 to an estimated 591.1Mt in 2020. The reduced output from the iron ore giant, Vale, was the key factor behind Brazil’s reduced output, while delays in the auctioning of mines in Odisha affected India’s output in 2020.
“Miners in Australia were relatively unaffected by COVID-19 due to effective measures adopted by the Australian Government, while a speedy recovery in China led to a significant 10.4% increase in the country’s iron ore output.”
Looking ahead, the global iron ore production is expected to increase by 111.3Mt to 2,302.5Mt in 2021. Rio Tinto is expected to produce up to 340Mt of iron ore, while BHP has released production guidance of 245–255Mt, supported by the start of the Samarco project in December, which is expected to produce between 1–2Mt.The company has retained its guidance for Australian mines at 276–286Mt on a 100% basis, due to scheduled maintenance work at its ore handling plant and tie-in activity at the Area C mine and South-Flank mine.
Bajaj added: “The remaining companies are expected to produce more than 600Mt of iron ore, including FMG, whose production is expected to range between 175–180Mt supported by its Eliwana mine that commenced operations in late December 2020, and Anglo American, which is expecting to produce between 64–67Mt. Vale is expected to resume 40Mt of its production capacity, taking its overall production capacity to 350Mt in 2021, with production guidance of 315-335Mt.”