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May 28, 2017

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Lonmin warns industrial action in S. Africa putting 40,000 jobs at risk

JOHANNESBURG--The world's third-biggest platinum producer Lonmin warned Monday that a nearly four-week strike at its South African mine was threatening 40,000 jobs, as the government moved to calm jitters in the sector.

Government-mediated talks reopened between Lonmin and the workers to try find a breakthrough in the illegal strike that left 44 dead at the company's mine in Marikana where production has been shut down since Aug. 10.

"An indefinite strike will ultimately threaten the jobs of more than 40,000 workers," said Lonmin as it worker turnout slid further down on Monday to 4.5 percent of its total workforce.

"We cannot go on indefinitely without normalizing operations and still escape the consequences of the mine not being operational."

Meantime ministers told journalists that the government was in control of law and order in the country even as violence broke out at a gold mine, leaving four wounded.

The violence erupted after workers, armed with traditional sticks and iron rods, gathered on Monday at the Gold One mine where they had been fired during an illegal stayway in June.

And at another mine — run by Gold Fields, a strike by 12,000 miners entered its fifth day.

"We would like to reassure all stakeholders and the international community that mining operations continue unhindered ... throughout the country.

"The events at Marikana is not a reflection of the business environment in South Africa," said minister in the presidency Collins Chabane.

Mines Minister Susan Shabangu said government was working at preventing an outbreak of violence at Gold Fields mine.

"We are having a meeting as part of a process on how best we are going to address the situation without allowing a further occurrence," Shabangu told journalists.

"We are indeed concerned with what is going on in the gold sector."

She said government was looking at how to handle workers grievances in the mining sector instead of the piecemeal approach applied so far.

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