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Strike-hit Implats resumes mining in S.Africa

South Africa’s Impala Platinum on Monday resumed production at its Rustenburg mine after a six-week strike that halted work at the world’s largest mine and left three people dead, the company said.

“Everything is calm, operations have resumed,” said Implats spokesman Johan Theron.

“We are working on ramping up production,” he added.

A group of workers went on strike on January 20, but a court declared their action illegal. That allowed the company to fire more than 17,000 strikers.

Striking workers had staged violent demonstrations outside the mine, preventing non-striking workers from entering. Three workers were beaten to death in the last two weeks, as union leaders battled to restore order.

After the company agreed to rehire the workers, the strike continued over the terms of their return.

Nearly 15,000 workers had re-applied for their jobs by end of business on Friday, according to the company.

The Rustenburg mine, northwest of the capital Pretoria, produced 941,200 ounces of platinum in the financial year ended June 2011 and the shutdown cost it $1.7 million (1.3 million euros) a day.

But the underlying issue behind the strike has not yet been resolved.

Some workers received an 18 percent salary increase and bonuses, but rock drillers and others were excluded.

“The issue of payment has not been resolved, we are still in negotiations with the company,” said Lesiba Seshoka, spokesman of The National Union of Mineworkers.