Locals, police clash near Ivanhoe platinum project in South Africa

Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:09pm EST
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Nov 26 (Reuters) - South African police fired rubber bullets on Wednesday to disperse a stone-throwing crowd which blocked a road to a platinum mine being developed by Canadian mining company Ivanhoe Mines in the northern Limpopo province, police said.

Three people were arrested after some 300 to 400 people blockaded the road with rocks and tires and started to throw stones at police, Mahwelereng police spokesman Steve Mabuza said. One woman was slightly injured.

In a statement, Ivanhoe said about 100 people had gathered after organizers falsely told local residents that the company would be recruiting workers for construction at the site.

It blamed "a number of known troublemakers" for the clashes near the $1.5 billion Platreef platinum project and said it was confident that an "overwhelming majority" of people in communities around the project support the planned mine.

Ivanhoe, whose chairman is flamboyant mining promoter Robert Friedland, this month received final approval from the South African government to resume development of the underground mine.

The Platreef project is 64 percent owned by Ivanhoe and 10 percent owned by a Japanese consortium of Itochu Corporation; ITC Platinum, an Itochu affiliate; Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation; and Japan Gas Corporation. A trust representing 20 nearby communities holds a 20 percent stake. (Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; Editing by Richard Chang)