When the world’s biggest platinum miners sit down with labour unions in May to negotiate a three-year wage deal, it could prove an early test of Cyril Ramaphosa’s new presidency. An amicable outcome would bolster Ramaphosa – the former mine union leader and one-time platinum company investor – as he seeks to lure foreign investors. However, both sides are tense and it is feared that unions will strike, which could send platinum prices soaring. “Ramaphosa’s key priority is to send a positive signal on reforming the economy, but there will be high levels of instability after the election,” said Andre Duvenhage, professor of politics at North West University. “The platinum belt is probably the most volatile environment in SA.”

Khusela Diko, a spokesperson for Ramaphosa, declined to comment.The industry is bracing for a tough round of talks. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), the largest and most militant labour organisation in the sector, is expected t...

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