Royal Bafokeng Platinum’s (RBPlats) (JSE:RBP) share price was down 2.98 percent at close of day Thursday (January 11) after an overnight protest led to the death of one person.
The incident occurred at the North shaft area of the company’s Bakofeng Rasimone platinum mine joint venture, located near Rustenburg in South Africa.
According to RBPlats, a group of over 100 protesters attempted to break into the mine. The protest was prompted by the dismissal of 14 employees this past December following a wildcat strike.
The shaft premises were locked and guarded by mine security staff, who tried to deter the protesters using rubber bullets and paint balls. The group, which included former employees, damaged a guard house and boom gate, and burned about 200 meters of a conveyor belt.
The company said an individual was shot and killed by live ammunition during the interaction. RBPlats noted that based on video footage, it believes the shot came from within the group of protesters; it added that the deceased was not employed by the company.
The firm has expressed its condolences to the family of the deceased, and has been in contact with the man’s family to offer support.
RBPlats has not yet been able to estimate the cost of the damage. Company spokesman Mpueleng Pooe told Reuters that “activity that takes place on the conveyor belt will be affected but the mining operations will continue.” The incident has been reported to the police, and an investigation is underway.
South Africa hosts the world’s deepest mines, where higher operational costs and safety concerns for workers are both key issues.
Platinum prices remain depressed, but are showing signs of improvement. Spot platinum was trading at $987.70 per ounce as of Thursday, up almost $10 from the previous day. The World Platinum Investment Council has forecast a supply deficit of 275,000 in 2018, and is calling for a 2-percent rise in demand to outpace a 1-percent gain in supply.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Shaw, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.