Embattled platinum miner Lonmin said Monday it had reopened its facility in South Africa after an 11-day wildcat strike that left 44 dead, most of them gunned down by police.
The world’s third-largest platinum miner also softened its tone, extending by another day its deadline for 3,000 strikers to return to the job. After earlier threatening to sack them, the company also said they could face “disciplinary action”.
“Lonmin can confirm that work at its Marikana operations resumed today as significant numbers of employees returned to work. Almost one third of the 28,000-strong work force reported for their morning shifts on Monday,” it said in a statement.
Lonmin had pulled down its shutters last week after 3,000 rock drill operators embarked on a violent strike that initially claimed 10 lives before police shot dead 34 of the protesters last Thursday.
The company at the weekend urged its 25,000 non-striking workers and 10,000 contractors to return to the job, insisting they will be safe.
“Those illegal strikers who did not return to work this morning will not be dismissed and have been allowed an extra day in light of current circumstances,” the company said in a statement.
About 27 per cent of the work force reported for the morning shift Monday, it said.
Lonmin’s executive vice-president for mining, Mark Munroe, in a statement after talks with union representatives, acknowledged the tragedy but stressed the need to return to normal.
“What has happened here has been a tragedy, and the pain and anger it has led to will take time to heal,” said Mr. Munroe.
“But those representing the vast majority of our work force 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.
“Tens of thousands of people’s livelihoods rely on Lonmin, as well as much of the local infrastructure we provide in terms of health, water, education and housing.”