The world’s biggest platinum producers and a radical union signed a wage agreement Tuesday to end South Africa’s longest mining strike, the companies announced.
“We have indeed signed a three-year agreement with AMCU…. This has brought to an end an unprecedented strike in the industry,” Lonmin CEO Ben Magara told reporters shortly after the signing ceremony.
The two other platinum producers—Anglo-American Platinum and Impala Platinum—also signed the deal with the radical Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) at Lonmin headquarters in Johannesburg.
The five-month strike, the longest in South Africa’s mining history, hit production in the world’s top platinum-exporting country, with companies reporting a combined loss of 24 billion rand ($2.27 billion) in earnings and 10.6 billion rand (about $1 billion) in workers’ wages.
“It is our sincere hope that our companies, our industry, our employees and all other stakeholders will never again have to endure the pain and suffering of this unprecedented strike period,” the CEOs of the three companies said in a joint statement.
“None of us, nor the country as a whole, can afford a repetition.”
Workers are expected to return to work on Wednesday. “It’s only a first step to re-building our businesses” said Magara.
“It is not necessarily a time for celebration. Clearly there are no winners in this strike,” he added.