PLATINUM GROUP METALS
UPDATE: 7 protesters arrested as Aquarius Platinum suspends Kroondal ops
Striking platinum miners in the Rustenburg area now want, Xstrata's operations, Implats and Amandelbult to be shut down next week, along with Amplats, Lonmin and Aquarius which have already shut down to protect workers.
Aquarius Platinum has suspended operations at its Kroondal mine near Rustenburg on Friday - the fourth mine to stop operations in a protracted labour dispute. Police swooped on striking protesters outside and arrested seven people.
"Aquarius Platinum Limited advises that the company had decided to temporarily suspend mining operations at the Kroondal Platinum Mine," a statement said.
"The decision to suspend mining operations has been taken to ensure the safety and security of employees and assets given the rising tensions and protests within the regional workforce and communities."
Operations were expected to recommence on Sunday and the situation would be closely monitored.
Earlier a group of protesters marched from Anglo American Platinum's Blesbok stadium to Aquarius Platinum and demanded that it closed. Mametlwe Sebei, leader of a group which has called itself the Democratic Socialist Movement, told the protesters that all mines in the Rustenburg area must come to a halt next week.
Sebei said protests were continuing to close all mines in the area and named Samancor, Xstrata, (both of which operate chrome mines in the region), Impala Platinum - the world's No. 2 platinum miner - and Amandelbult (which is located some way away from Rustenburg). He also named Murray & Roberts - a mining contractor employed by Aquarius.
The protestors had given Murray & Roberts and Aquarius Platinum management 15 minutes to respond to a request to close operations.
"We came here peacefully to ask you to close operations, because we believe workers underground are being underpaid," workers' leader Godfrey Lindani had said.
Police then swooped on the protesters and Eye Witness News and the SABC reported that tear gas was fired.
The arrests came within hours of Justice Minister Jeff Radebe warning that government would no longer tolerate the violence, threats and intimidation taking place in the mining sector.
In an announcement made in Pretoria, following a meeting of security cluster ministers and other Cabinet members, he announced measures to be put in place to ensure the situation was brought under control.
These included that "illegal gatherings, the carrying of dangerous weapons, and incitement, as well as threats of violence against anyone in the affected areas, will be dealt with accordingly".
Radebe said law enforcement agencies "will not hesitate to arrest those who have been found to have contravened the law".
Nearby Lonmin has been closed for more than a month and Amplats suspended operations on Wednesday.
Operations were halted at Gold Fields KDC west mine near Carletonville on Sunday when workers there went on strike.