South African Mine: Rubber Bullets Fired
South African police have fired rubber bullets to disperse a crowd gathered near a mine owned by the world's number one platinum producer.
People had apparently gathered illegally in an informal settlement near the site in Rustenburg, which is run by Anglo American Platinum (Amplats).
Unrest appears to have deepened across the platinum belt after the smaller rival firm Lonmin agreed big pay rises for its workers.
"They refused to disperse. Police had to revert to tear gas and stun grenades and there was also rubber bullets fired," police spokesman Dennis Adriao said.
Amplats' spokesman Mpumi Sithole confirmed to reporters that tear gas was used at the Sondela informal settlement.
Rustenburg, 60 miles north-west of Johannesburg, is near Lonmin's Marikana mine where police shot dead 34 striking miners last month.
Security has been tightened in the region in the wake of the shooting in August and following weeks of tension around the mines.
Amplats, which accounts for 40% of global supplies of the metal used in catalytic converters in cars, is the second mining giant to be hit by strikes after wildcat action at Lonmin's mine started on August 10.
It closed its five mines in the area last Wednesday due to safety fears after miners going to work were threatened but said its operations were back to normal levels on Tuesday.
However, Amplats workers committee representative Gaddhafi Mdoda said he had visited four shafts on Wednesday and that there was still "a lot of unrest".
He claimed: "The cops are shooting people... driving the hippo [armoured vehicle] over the worker who was lying down because they shot him with the rubber bullets."
Police could not confirm any injuries.
Lonmin staff gathered on Wednesday to celebrate their wage deal, which sees salaries rise 22%, but within hours workers at neighbouring mines were calling for similar hikes.
An organiser for the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) at Impala Platinum said: "We want management to meet us as well now.
"We want 9,000 rand (£673) a month as a basic wage instead of the roughly 5,000 rand (£374) we are getting."
A labour activist said workers who have stayed off the job at Amplats were inspired by Lonmin and would press on with their demands.
"The mood here is upbeat, very celebratory," Mametlwe Sebei, a community representative near Rustenburg, said. "Victory is in sight. The workers are celebrating Lonmin as a victory."