First Platinum, Now Gold: As South African Miners Strike Spreads, Thousands Of Ounces Remain In The Ground
by Tyler Durden
Two weeks ago we showed dramatic footage as striking miners at Lonmin’s Marikana South Africa platinum mine were fired upon by local the local cops, killing dozens of protesters in the process. Aside from the implications of what happens when the establishment loses control and desperate workers revolt with complete disregard for their own safety, the strike has crippled the world’s third largest platinum maker, and has cut daily production of the precious metal by 2,500 ounces. Since then the Lonmin situation has remained critical, with just 6% of the South African company’s workers turning up for work last week. In the meantime, the strike bug has gone airborne, and has now impacted Gold Fields, the world’s fourth largest gold mine. From the FT: “Some 12,000 workers at a gold mine operated by Gold Fields have gone on strike, in the latest industrial strife to hit South Africa’s mining industry. Sven Lunsche, a spokesman for Gold Fields, said the wild-cat strike was not directly related to the crisis at the Marikana platinum complex, where 44 people have been killed in violence after rock drill operators downed their tools to demand higher wages on August 10. But he acknowledged that “the atmosphere in the mining industry is very volatile at the moment and this may have had an indirect impact on the situation”. The bottom line: “The strike was costing the company 1,660 gold ounces of production a day, Mr Lunsche said.” In other words in addition to the fear of a resumption in money printing by central bankers, the gold price will now have to deal with the added fear that supply disruptions just may hamper China’s stealthy hording attempts to become the world’s biggest holder of physical gold, or at least at sub $2000/oz prices.