Massive Strikes Affect Platinum, Gold

A month after 34 miners in South Africa were killed during a confrontation with police, striking coworkers have laid out demands for more equitable employment. Platinum prices have shot up 20% in the past month, according to a Reuters report that paints a picture of spiraling strife.

Anglo American Platinum, a subsidiary of mining giant Anglo American (ISE: AAL.L) , said it suspended operations at five shafts in Rustenburg to protect the security of some 26,000 employees at the mines, according to a report in the Washington Post.

The first signs of conflict came nine months ago, when Impala Platinum (ISE: IPLA.L) workers went on a six-week strike to increase wages. Reuters today is reporting miner demands for the equivalent of $1,900 a month, almost triple their current earnings and approximately double the per-capita GDP in South Africa.

Gold miner Gold Fields (NYS: GFI) has also lost production due to strikes by thousands of workers in South Africa.

It seems shareholders concerned with company governance have pulled their investments from gold and platinum stocks, while others have poured money into the sector in hopes of cashing in on strike-induced diminishing supply. In the last six months, Gold Field's stock has dropped 15%, while SPDR Gold Trust ETF (NYS: GLD) has bumped up 5%, and ETFS Physical Platinum Shares (NYS: PPLT) pulled up last month to an overall 1.5% loss.

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