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Underground mine occupation continues in South Africa

More than 2,200 workers are entering the third day of their protest 500 meters underground

More than 2,000 miners are continuing their protest after taking over a facility in South Africa, demanding bonuses and pension payments. The site is owned by one of the world’s largest platinum miners, Impala Platinum Holdings.   

The protest by workers at the Bafokeng Rasimone Platinum Mine near the city of Rustenburg began on Monday. According to reports, 2,205 miners were initially located around 500 meters underground and refused to move.  

Impala Platinum Holdings, also known as Implats, has suspended operations at the mine and has branded the protest illegal.  

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According to Implats, 167 protesters had returned to the surface by Tuesday night after enduring harsh conditions, and were taken away in ambulances.  

One of the protesters, Mzimase Bandli, said he was “freezing to death down there,” also complaining of an intense headache and a lack of food and water.  

The company has warned it will take action against any employees who “engage in illegal conduct and criminal acts.” 

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FILE PHOTO: Members of the South African National Defence Force walk as they take part in an integrated multi-disciplinary law enforcement operation in Durban.
South African Army raids suspected illegal miners

The protest “remains unresolved” despite representatives from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) going underground to meet with the workers, Implats stated.  

“We hope to respond today through the NUM and agree a process to bring all workers back to the surface and resolve the issues through normal constructive engagement,” a company spokesman said. 

The mine holding noted there has been an increase in illegal underground protests and copycat actions in recent months.  

In October, another shaft was occupied for three days by 250 platinum workers seeking better wages, while 440 protesters staged a protest at a gold mine. 

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South Africa is one of the world’s top gold producers, although mining output has been in decline for over two decades.  

According to authorities, the downturn is partially due to thousands of illegal miners who hinder operations and are viewed as a source of criminality by locals. 

December 20, 2023 at 03:43PM
RT

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