INSIGHT-Labour strife, safety concerns push S.Africa platinum mechanisation
* Mechanisation drive in S.Africa platinum belt
* Labour unrest accelerating push
* Implats plans to mechanise "wherever" it can
* Geology, low prices, capital constraints obstacles to drive
By Ed Stoddard
RUSTENBURG, South Africa, Oct 14 (Reuters) - For decades, production in South Africa's platinum mines has rested on the muscular shoulders of men risking life and limb to drill into the rock face with jackhammers.
Three years of labour upheaval and a political push to make the shafts safer and transform the low-wage workforce have set in motion a drive to replace such rock drillers with machines.
"Labour militancy is dictating our push to mechanization and boardrooms will rubber stamp this stuff," said Peter Major, a fund manager at Cadiz Corporate Solutions.
The costly change is happening despite the obstacles thrown by geology, low platinum prices and capital constraints. Continued...