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Showing its metal: Platinum focus

27 October 2012 19:47 Kategori Firmalar
Expensive, rare and extremely durable, platinum continues to own the bridal market despite the recent Lonmin protests. Retail Jeweller investigates the metal’s enduring appeal

Naturally white, rare, pure, strong, high quality and hypoallergenic, platinum’s properties do most of the talking. Add to this, the metal’s luxurious reputation and the emotion inherent in bridal shopping and platinum should be a straightforward sell. However, the metal hit the headlines for other reasons in August, when 3,000 workers at the Lonmin mine in West Marikana, South Africa, staged an illegal work stoppage and protest march over a pay dispute.

By August 15, violence had broken out and the next day 34 miners were killed when police opened fire on the group of protesters. The situation continued to deteriorate when 270 labourers were charged with the deaths of their colleagues rather than the police, as a result of an obscure piece of legal doctrine left over from the apartheid era, which allowed the prosecutors to charge the protesters, not the police.

On August 29, Lonmin and government officials tried to broker a peace accord, which was finally signed by several unions and Lonmin management on September 6. Lonmin stipulated that it would start discussions for salaries to be increased to 12,500 rand (£953), nearly triple what the miners currently earn.
"Lonmin has, for many years, worked tirelessly to achieve effective and open labour relations,” said a spokesperson for the company. "We are saddened by the tragic events since August 11 and are committed to finding a peaceful resolution. The company acknowledges that more can always be done, but believes that it has already done good work in the communities around its mines.

"In 2011, it spent in total 309m rand [£23.5m] on community projects, hostel conversions, healthcare delivery, audit learning schemes, training and provision of bursaries to university students. Lonmin is committed to continuing this effort and investment; it is a fundamental element of the company’s licence to operate and the company strives to do it well.”

The concern now is what the period of non-production and the shocking images of violence that have pervaded the media will do to the price and prominence of platinum.

"No one could fail to be appalled as events have unfolded in South Africa,” says James Maxwell, managing partner at 21st Dimension, distributor of Mastercut Diamond in the UK. "Whether consumer perceptions are affected or not, as purchasers and manufacturers of platinum, we all have a responsibility to bring all possible pressure to bring the perpetrators to justice. Any such human rights violation is shocking in the extreme. Ultimately, as stakeholders in the jewellery industry, we are all accountable to the consumer.”

Son Guncelleme: 27 Ekim 2012 19:47
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