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South Africa's government steps in to mediate four-month platinum strike

JOHANNESBURG--Government-mediated talks will start on Thursday to try to break a deadlock between a South African union and top global platinum producers over a crippling four-month strike, the mining ministry said.

A panel drawn from the mining, labor and finance ministries will take up the baton dropped by the Labour Court earlier this week when wage talks between the parties collapsed.

New mining minister Ngoako Ramathlodi set up the team after meeting executives of Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin on Wednesday.

The talks came as firms reported billions of dollars in lost revenue and wages due to the stoppages, contributing to a contraction in the country's economy in the first quarter of the year.

“All parties are hurting. The workers are hurting. We have no option but to find an amicable solution,” he said in a statement.

South Africa's platinum producers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) have been holding on-off talks since 80,000 workers went on strike on Jan. 23.

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