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22 June 2012 | South Africa

Another S.African platinum mine shut down over low prices

Mine workers walk in a platinum mine in South Africa.  By Paballo Thekiso (AFP/File)
Mine workers walk in a platinum mine in South Africa. By Paballo Thekiso (AFP/File)

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Work at Aquarius Platinum's Everest mine was suspended Friday, the second major platinum mine shut down in less than two weeks as producers grapple with low prices, rising costs and labour issues.

The world's fourth-largest platinum producer said poor ground conditions, disruptive labour strife and low prices "have rendered the mine uneconomic".

"It has therefore been decided to place the mine on care and maintenance, pending better prices and improved industrial relations."

"The platinum market is in an abiding surplus, with the industry generating nearly half a million ounces of unneeded platinum each year due to the current European economic crisis, among other factors," it said in a statement on its website.

"From an operating perspective, costs continue to rise at above the rate of domestic South African inflation, while labour productivity has declined."

The decision leaves only two of the company's seven mines in South Africa and Zimbabwe producing.

The announcement came less than two weeks after operations were halted at Marikana mine, an Aquarius and Anglo American joint venture.

South Africa has around 87 percent of the world's platinum resources and is the largest producer of the metal, used in vehicle catalytic converters to cut pollution.

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