No ore production as Lonmin reopens Marikana mine | News | DW | 20.08.2012
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No ore production as Lonmin reopens Marikana mine

A South African mine where police shot dead 34 striking miners last week has reopened. The company that operates the facility extended a deadline for striking workers to return to the job.

The company that operates the platinum mine in South Africa where dozens of people were killed in clashes surrounding a wildcat strike last week says it has reopened the facility.

"Lonmin can confirm that work at its Marikana operations resumed today as significant numbers of employees returned to work," the company said in a statement. "Almost one third of the 28,000-strong workforce reported for their morning shifts on Monday."

Lonmin also announced that it had extended a deadline for about 3,000 striking employees to return to work or face dismissal by a day, to Tuesday. This was the second time that the company extended the deadline.

Seeking a return to normality

Following a meeting with union representatives on Monday, Lonmin's executive vice president for mining called on all parties involved to take steps to move on from the events of last week.

"What has happened here has been a tragedy, and the pain and anger it has led to will take time to heal," Mark Munroe said. "But those representing the vast majority of our workforce have been clear again in our discussions today that we need to try to return to some kind of normality as we go through that healing process."

He also told reporters at a press conference that ore production had not yet resumed at the facility, located about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north-west of Johannesburg.

The strike came to a head last Thursday when police opened fire on miners wielding spears, machetes and handguns, killing 34 of them. Ten people had been killed in violence prior to the police shooting. Among them was a shop steward from South Africa's biggest trade union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), who was hacked to death.

Some workers at the Marikana mine who walked off the job 10 days ago expressed disgust at Lomin's calls for them to return to work.

"Expecting us to go back to work is like an insult. Many of our friends and colleagues are dead, then they expect us to resume work. Never," said mine worker Zachariah Mbewu.

On Sunday, President Jacob Zuma declared a week of national mourning for those killed in the violence at Marikana. Memorial services are to be held on Thursday.

pfd/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters)