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Key S. African union abstains from mining pact

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Striking Lonmin mine workers dance and sing as they gather at the Wonderkop Stadium on May 15, 2013, in Marikana during an illegal strike. Worker unions and businesses signed a government-backed peace pact Wednesday to quell violence in South Africa's restive mine sector, but compromised with a key union abstaining.AFP/File

Worker unions and businesses signed a government-backed peace pact Wednesday to quell violence in South Africa's restive mine sector, but compromised with a key union abstaining.

The different parties committed to "working together to ensure stability and sustainability of the mining sector for the future of South Africa's economy", they said in a joint statement.

South African President Jacob Zuma set up the platform as violent illegal strikes and union rivalry continue in the mining sector.

Deadly unrest has especially rocked the platinum belt, responsible for 80 percent of the world's production.

A power struggle between the upstart Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has fuelled a lot of the unrest.

But AMCU stalled on signing the Wednesday agreement, said Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

"They requested that they would want to get a mandate to sign (from members). They are not going to canvass on the content. That has been agreed on," he said.

The country's Chamber of Mines, large union federations Fedusa and Cosatu, and mining minister Susan Shabangu signed the document.

They committed to the rule of law and improve the relationship between mining companies, unions and mineworkers.

They also agreed to improve living and work conditions of miners, though details were sketchy.

Over 50 people died in strikes and clashes last year in the northwestern platinum region, including 34 who were shot dead by police in one day at the Lonmin platinum mine.

Since the start of 2013 AMCU has toppled NUM as the biggest union in the platinum industry, sparking tit-for-tat killings between the two factions.

The unrest has affected production and investor confidence in the mining sector as South Africa battles sluggish economic growth.

Mining and related activities contribute around 20 percent of Africa's largest economy.