Implats battered by stoppages, promotes RDOs

[] – IMPALA Platinum (Implats) said a six-week
strike at its key Impala Lease Area battered third-quarter production figures, and
announced steps to stem further labour unrest at the operation.

The company, which saw gross platinum production for the three months ended March
fall 195,000 oz, said it had adjusted the salaries of rock drill operators (RDOs)
and implemented annual increases several months earlier.

In addition, it was assessing the claims of Associated Mineworkers and Construction
Union (Amcu) – the union that was thought to be largely responsible for triggering the
six-week strike among RDOs – for organisational rights on the mine.

Implats also confirmed membership losses of The National Union of Mineworkers
(NUM) with some 10,813 resignations among its 30,000-strong mine complement, of
which roughly 22,000 were unionised.

Amcu, Implats said, had claimed membership totalling 8,000 workers. Membership
claims were being verified, Implats said.

These developments confirm a shift in labour allegiances at Implats Lease Area
which partly reflect disruptions and stoppages since the beginning of the year. But
another contributing factor to lower production was the implementation of Section 54
safety-related stoppages, which saw a further 5,000 oz in output lost.

This is lower than the 8,000 oz and 25,000 oz lost in the previous two quarters, but
Implats observed that the lower production at its Lease Area mine makes it difficult
to draw comparisons. A further 21,000 oz was lost in the quarter as the Lease
Area sought to ramp up production again. Full production is not expected until June,
the company said.


Gross production at Implats fell by 195,000 oz in the third (March) quarter to 230,000
oz. Of this decline, some 120,000 oz was in lost production at the Lease Area, which
accounts for about half of Implats’ total annual output.

Operations at Impala Refining Services (IRS) was subsequently lower, which was
additionally affected by less throughput from Crocodile River, an operation owned by
Eastern Platinum. In addition, in the corresponding quarter of the previous financial
year, there was extra supply from Lonmin.

Commenting on relations with RDOs, Implats said: “In order to address the
grievances of the rock drill operators [RDOs] and in recognition of their unique skills
and expertise, the company has promoted these employees to a higher grade which
incorporated a salary adjustment to better align them to the company’s stated
remuneration philosophy, and to reflect the unique role they play in the production

Implats did not report any progress in negotiations with the Zimbabwean government
regarding compensation for a 31% stake in Zimplats, which the two parties have
provisionally agreed will be completed in order to comply with the country’s
indigenisation strategy.