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South Africa: platinum miners strike to demand higher wages; government vows to keep order

  • 0517223d3ec7b703490f6a70670044c1.jpg

    Razor wire set up outside the entrance to the Lonmin's platinum mine is seen in Marikana near Rustenburg, South Africa, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. The Allied Metal and Construction Workers Union (AMCU) at Lonmin in Marikana, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and Impala mines started a strike on Thursday pushing for an entry-level monthly salary of 12,500 rand ($1,147). (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (The Associated Press)

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    Mine security personnel stand outside the entrance to Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, near Rustenburg, South Africa, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. The Allied Metal and Construction Workers Union (AMCU) at Lonmin in Marikana, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and Impala mines started a strike on Thursday pushing for an entry-level monthly salary of 12,500 rand ($1,147). (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (The Associated Press)

Tens of thousands of platinum miners in South Africa are on strike, demanding higher wages in a protest that is disrupting one of the country's major industries.

The strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union began Thursday. Protesters sang and danced outside one mine shaft in Rustenburg, the center of major platinum operations. South Africa is the world's leading producer of the metal, which is used in medical, electronic and other industries.

South African officials have appealed for dialogue and say they will act decisively to enforce the law. In 2012, police shot and killed several dozen miners during labor unrest at a Lonmin platinum mine. An inquiry into the shootings is still underway.

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