Aquarius’ Kroondal mine reopened after protest action

23rd November 2009 By: Chanel de Bruyn - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Production at the central shaft of Aquarius Platinum’s Kroondal mine, near Rustenburg in South Africa, had resumed on Sunday, following the arrest of 34 former contract miners who disrupted production on Friday.

The former contract miners had been arrested for, among other things, trespassing, after they staged an illegal sit-in for most of Friday, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said.

Contract mining company, Murray & Roberts Cementation, had terminated the contracts of about 3 900 employees for undertaking an illegal strike at the Kroondal and Marikana mines, in August.

These workers were later reinstated after talks with the NUM were held, but were fired again after holding another illegal protest. The NUM again intervened and managed to get the employees reinstated.

A third illegal strike, however, finally cost these workers their jobs.

On Friday, the 34 former employees of Murray & Roberts Cementation had held an underground sit-in, which eventually led to both police officers and employees at Kroondal being injured, said the NUM.

“The NUM is an organisation for disciplined cadres and a progressive force involved in the genuine fight for workers rights. We therefore call on the law enforcement agencies to ensure that those who are involved in all these irregular activities are arrested and no one disguises criminal activity as labour matters,” Seshoka noted in a statement.

The union also called on Aquarius Platinum to ensure the safety of its work force and its operations.

Seshoka emphasised that the NUM did not “support any criminal activity”. He added that the union would also review its stance with regard to any members that were implicated in criminal activity.

Spokesperson for Aquarius Platinum, Charmane Russell, said that the impact on production had been minimal.