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South African miners reportedly strike pay deal

A mediator for striking miners in South Africa has said they have reached a deal on pay with the operating company Lonmin. Violent unrest at one mine peaked last month when police shot dead 34 miners.

Reports in South Africa on Tuesday suggested that a lengthy and violent miners' strike at the Marikana site northwest of the capital Johannesburg was coming to an end.

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South African miners accept pay rise

Zolisa Bodlani, a strike leader, was quoted by the SAPA news agency as saying workers would pick up their tools on Thursday, after reaching a deal on pay with the Lonmin operating company.

Lonmin could not confirm the reported deal.

SAPA reported that rock drill operators at the platinum mine would receive a 22 percent pay increase, with remaining miners being granted an 11 percent raise.

The Associated Press cited another mediator, Bishop Joe Seoka, as saying that a deal had been struck without offering specifics. Church officials had been helping the miners with the negotiations.

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.

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

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

South African President Jacob Zuma said earlier in the week that the mining sector should be reformed to ensure better treatment of its workers. He also said that unrest at gold and platinum mines in the country could have cost South Africa as much as $550 million this year.

msh/mz (AP, dpa)

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