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South Africa miners end strike after hefty pay deal

Striking platinum miners in South Africa have ended their strike after reaching a pay rise deal with mine owners Lonmin. The deal ends a nearly six-week standoff which saw the deaths of 45 workers.

Miners at Lonmin's Marikana mine are set to return to work on Thursday after more than three weeks in negotiations ended in a hefty pay rise deal.

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South African miners accept pay rise

Under the deal, which Lonmin confirmed it had signed late on Tuesday, workers are set to receive a wage increase of between 11 and 22 percent, plus bonuses.

As news broke of the agreement ecstatic scenes were reported at a nearby football pitch where workers had gathered.

"It's a huge achievement. No union has achieved a 22 percent increase before," Zolisa Bodlani, a worker representative at Marikana, told news agency Reuters.

"The workers are very happy with it," added Bishop Jo Seoka, the president of the South African Council of Churches, who had brokered the talks.

"And so we believe that what has happened here has been a victory really for the workers, and they're going to work on Thursday morning."

A total of 45 people died in clashes over pay at the Marikana site, 34 of them in a single police operation against a major protest on August 16.

The striking workers had said that the lowest-paid miners earned just 4,500 rand (418 euros, $540) per month, initially demanding that the figure be increased to 12,500 rand. An ounce of platinum currently sells for more than $1600.

Lonmin, the world's third largest platinum mining company, has seen production dwindle during the strikes and has opened financing negotiations with bankers.

ccp/jm (AFP, Reuters)

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