Platinum strike talks break down: minister

The latest talks to try to end South Africa's months-long strike against the world's top three platinum producers have broken down, the new mines minister said Wednesday (28/05/2014).

"It appears like the mediation has come to a stop yesterday," Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramathlodi told Talk Radio 702.

"I don't think ... the judge succeeded with the mediation," he said.

The latest talks were initiated last week by the Labour Court, after the government and independent mediators failed to break the deadlock in a four-month-long strike that has led to South Africa's economy contracting.

Appointed at the weekend, Ramathlodi has also begun meeting with union and mine officials.

On Tuesday he met with the union leading the strike that has crimped production in world's richest belt of platinum, a key component in the catalytic converters used to reduce pollution in car exhaust systems.

Ramathlodi said he was due to meet the mining bosses Wednesday.

An interministerial team has been cobbled together "to give me the capability to begin the process of mediating with the parties", he said.

South Africa's platinum producers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) have been holding on-and-off talks since 80,000 workers refused to go underground in January.

Workers are demanding the entry-level monthly wage to be more than doubled to 12,500 rand (1,200, 875 euros), but employers are offering that as part of a total package and only from 2017.

Data released Tuesday showed South Africa's economy shrank by 0.6 percent in the first quarter, largely due to a slump in the mining sector. - AFP