By Ebi Kesiena
On Tuesday, over 2,000 workers persisted in occupying a platinum mine in South Africa, marking the second day of a substantial protest that has become one of the nation’s most significant mine demonstrations in years.
Impala Platinum Holdings, also known as Implats, reported that 63 of the 2,205 miners involved in the protest on Monday emerged during the night. The company classified the action as an “illegal underground protest” and issued a warning, stating that it would take decisive action against employees engaged in illegal and criminal activities.
Operations at the mine situated northwest of Johannesburg remain at a standstill as negotiations with the workers and unions are underway.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) officials successfully initiated discussions with the workers on the previous night, commencing the process of addressing their concerns with management, according to a company spokesperson.
“Hopefully, we can respond today through the NUM and agree on a process to bring all workers to the surface and resolve issues through normal constructive engagement,” he added.
South Africa has witnessed a surge in underground protests by miners in recent times. Implats expressed concern about the increasing prevalence of “illegal underground protests and copycat illegal actions” in recent months.
In October, over 100 gold miners spent nearly three days underground in Springs near Johannesburg as rival unions vied for control. Additionally, this month, 440 miners staged a protest in another gold mine, while 250 platinum workers demanding improved wages occupied a shaft for three days concurrently.
Mining is a major employer in South Africa, which is the largest exporter of platinum and a significant exporter of gold, diamonds, coal, and other raw materials.