Glencore Xstrata fires 1,000 African workers

Swiss-based Glencore Xstrata has dismissed 1,000 workers who staged wildcat strikes at its South African chrome operations last week, the firm said on Monday, amid continuing tensions between rival unions in the key mining sector.

"These thousand people have been dismissed Friday and over the weekend," spokesman Christopher Tsatsawane told AFP.

"They have until tomorrowTuesday, to appeal their dismissal." 

Workers downed tools last Tuesday on the Helena, Magareng and Thorncliffe sites in the northern province of Limpopo.
A member of the upstart Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union 
(AMCU) accused a shift supervisor of assault, which provoked the strike.
AMCU and the powerful National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) are locked in a 
struggle for members and power over South Africa's mines.
NUM, which is allied with the ruling African National Congress, has been 
bleeding members who accuse it of being too close to mine companies.
The rivalry has often descended into violent clashes and strikes as AMCU 
members demand union recognition from mining companies.
Last November, Xstrata, based in the canton of Zug, fired 400 illegal strikers who stopped work over an internal disciplinary system.

Thousands of mines workers have been fired and then re-hired during the rash of strikes across South Africa's mining sector in the past year.
Strikes often turned deadly, with 34 people shot dead by police on one day 
at the Lonmin platinum mine in the North West province last August.
Last week, President Jacob Zuma called on strikers and firms to find swift 
solutions to disagreements amid renewed wildcat stoppages.
Mining and related sectors account for around 20 percent of Africa's 
largest economy.

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At least 19 illegal miners killed at subsidiary of Swiss-based Glencore

At least 19 illegal miners were killed on Thursday after part of a copper mine collapsed in southeastern DR Congo, Swiss-based mining giant Glencore said.

At least 19 illegal miners killed at subsidiary of Swiss-based Glencore
Photo: AFP

The incident happened when two galleries caved in at a mine in the Kolwezi area operated by Kamoto Copper Company (KCC), a subsidiary of Glencore.

“Tragically there were 19 fatalities today, with possible further unconfirmed fatalities,” Glencore said in a statement, which said there had been recurrent problems with illicit mining on its concessions.

Other reports suggest the death toll could be higher. 

The Congolese site Actualite.CD reported at least 36 deaths.

“The illegal artisanal miners were working two galleries in benches overlooking the extraction area. Two of these galleries caved in,” the company said.

Glencore said KCC had observed a “growing presence” of illegal miners, with on average 2,000 people a day intruding on its operating sites.

“KCC urges all illegal miners to cease from putting their lives at risk by trespassing on a major industrial site,” Glencore said.

Illegal mining is common and frequently deadly in Democratic Republic of Congo, where safety is often poor and risk-taking high.

Figures indicating the scale of the problem are sketchy, given that many mines are illegal and remote.