Strikes at South African mines controlled by Lonmin PLC (London: LMI), the world's third-largest platinum producer, and Gold Fields Ltd. (NYSE: GFI), the fourth-largest gold miner, escalated Monday, further endangering production of the metals.
Around 10,000 South African miners employed by London-based Lonmin marched and threatened to kill strike-breakers, according to Reuters. Only around 6.3 percent of Lonmin's 28,000 workers were prepared to work, reported Bloomberg News, stalling labor negotiations scheduled for Monday.
The platinum sector has experienced turmoil due to clashes between the rival National Union of Mineworkers and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union. Lonmin miners are also seeking a raise in basic wages to 12,500 rand ($1,500) per month, up from their current pay of 5,400 rand, but the company has refused to cooperate, citing financial pressures. In August, 34 miners and 10 police were killed at a clash in Lonmin's Marikana mine.
The price of platinum, a key metal in catalytic converters for cars, has increased around 14 percent since strikes began, trading around $1,600 per ounce on Monday.
Johannesberg-based Gold Fields reported 15,000 workers striking at its KDC West mine, following a resolved strike last week that involved 12,000 workers at its KDC East mine. The company said it hadn't received any specific demands.
Gold Fields stock fell nine cents, or 0.68 percent, to $13.22 in mid-Monday trading. Shares of Lonmin gained 13.74 British pence, or 2.30 percent, to 609.74 pence at Monday's close.