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It suggests a cooling of tensions between Sibanye and one of its biggest unions ahead of potentially fractious platinum wage negotiations later this year. AMCU has been on strike since Nov. 21 after refusing to join a wage agreement that Sibanye reached with other unions. In an apparent victory for Sibanye Chief Executive Officer Neal Froneman, the labor group has now signed the same three-year pact.
A four-month-old wage strike by members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union has slashed output at the company’s South African gold mines. While Sibanye is challenging the legality of that strike, it’s also preparing for pay negotiations with AMCU at its platinum business.
The charter is in breach of a court order issued last April, which ruled that previous versions of the regulations didn’t require miners to top up black-shareholding levels if they previously met a minimum 26 percent requirement, the Minerals Council South Africa said on Wednesday. “The charter does not fully recognize the continuing consequences of previous empowerment transactions, particularly in respect of mining-right renewals and transfers of these rights,” said Roger Baxter, chief executive officer of the lobby group representing companies including Anglo American Plc and Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. The move is a setback for South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has said he will encourage investment by removing policy uncertainty and cracking down on the corruption and government inefficiency that characterized the rule of his predecessor Jacob Zuma.
Palladium – a sister-metal to platinum that’s used mostly in car catalytic converters – has gained nearly 28 percent so far this year, outpacing the 26 percent rise in West Texas Intermediate crude, the 22 percent jump in nickel, and the 16 percent gain for lumber. On the supply side, most of the world’s palladium is a by-product of southern African mines mainly focused on platinum. Manufacturers whose converters at present use more palladium than platinum are likely to take several years to switch back to the cheaper metal.
Palladium, once considered an unattractive byproduct of platinum mining until the rise of catalytic converters in the 1970s, is hitting new records. You might think this spike will spark an immediate reversal and slump, as is often the case with commodity prices. Palladium and platinum are part of an intertwined group of rare metals(1) that occur in only three regions on the planet: southern Africa, Siberia, and, in smaller amounts, the U.S. and Canada.