Amcu to take new offer from mine bosses to members

The biggest union at the South African mines of the world's three largest platinum producers, whose members have been on a pay strike for 13 weeks, has yet to take the companies' new offer to members, its leader said.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) will meet with Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum Holdings and Lonmin on Tuesday for the companies to explain the offer, President Joseph Mathunjwa said by phone. Amplats and Impala proposed on April 17 to increase the cash portion of employees' pay, which includes bonuses and living allowances, to R12 500 a month by 2017 to try end a strike that began January 23.

"Everyone is aware that it was a long weekend and our members were travelling to their families therefore there's nothing we can communicate," Mathunjwa said. "We're going to meet the employers this morning and we'll take it from there."

The offer is short of Amcu's demand for monthly basic pay, excluding cash bonuses, of R12 500 within four years. The strike has cost the three producers R14.2-billion in revenue and employees R6.3-billion in wages, according to a website set up by the companies.

Amcu's leadership said last week it wasn't happy with the offer that fell "far short" of its demands, Impala spokesperson Johan Theron said by phone on Tuesday. The damage caused by the strike will already make companies reconsider their operations in some areas, he said.

The chief executive of the three companies will be present at Tuesday's meeting, Charmane Russell, a spokesperson for the producers on the talks at Russell & Associates, said in an emailed response to questions. – Bloomberg

Rhino horn theft biggest of its kind in SA

The theft of more than 40 rhino horns from steel safes belonging to the national parks department in Mpumalanga is the biggest of its kind in the country, a police department said.

The thieves "knew where they were going and what they were going to do", Paul Ramaloko, a spokesperson for the Hawks, said. "This is the biggest theft of rhino horn we have ever experienced."

The horns were stolen early on Monday morning, according to the parks department. No arrests have been made.

South Africa is home to 83% of Africa's rhinos and 73% of all wild rhino worldwide. This year, 294 of the animals have been poached compared with a record 1 004 for all of last year. The horns are smuggled to east Asia where they are believed to cure cancer.

Ramaloko declined to estimate the value of the horns. Last year eight horns worth an estimated $650 000 were stolen from a museum in Ireland. Rhino horn sold illegally can fetch as much as R1.003-million per kilogramme.

The horns were stolen from steel safes that were cut open, according to the Lowvelder, a newspaper based in Nelspruit, in Mpumalanga province.

Earlier this month, Vietnamese pop stars Thu Minh and Thanh Bui performed at a game park in the Eastern Cape province to promote the start of a campaign in their country to discourage the purchase of rhino horns from poachers. – Bloomberg

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