Eastplats accuses strikers of sabotage

A STRIKE has turned nasty at Eastern Platinum ’s Crocodile River Mine where some workers allegedly sabotaged parts of the mine, causing operations to close while repairs were made, the company said.

Eastplat’s shares fell as much as 29% to an intraday low of R5,60. It closed 18% down at R6,49, a year low, on news of the industrial action as well as poor financial results for the three months to March.

The Toronto- and Johannesburg-listed company reported a net loss of $5,6m compared to earnings of $824000 a year earlier. Platinum sales fell 17% to 25387oz. The reduction in production came from changes required by the Department of Mineral Resources in underground tunnel support systems and subsequent staff retraining. Grade in ore delivered to the plant fell due to increased development, CEO Ian Rozier said.

The June quarter is also likely to show the effects of disruption due to souring labour relations over wage talks.

The concentrator continued to treat stockpiles ahead of a planned maintenance shutdown this week, but mining was disrupted by shutdowns at the weekend.

“The impact is not significant at this stage and the mine would hope to make it up,” spokeswoman Charmane Russell said.

Eastplats claimed some mine employees damaged mine property last week as an unprotected strike started, forcing closures. Last Saturday, a safety inspection was conducted to determine the damage to infrastructure.

“The full extent of this damage was subsequently found to have involved sabotage of underground electrical and pumping equipment that resulted in flooding as well as damage to the ventilation system,” Mr Rozier said.

The National Union of Mineworkers would send a senior delegation to the mine today or at the weekend to resolve the matter, said spokesman Lesiba Seshoka.

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