11/01/2012 11:30 EDT

Forbes Coal Mine Killings: South African Miners Shot, Killed By Security Amid Labour Unrest

Mine workers attend a memorial service at the Lonmin Platinum Mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. Police shot and killed 34 striking miners and wounded 78 others last week. Demands for higher wages spread to at least two other mines, raising fears of further protests at more South African mines that provide most of the world's platinum. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Security guards at a Canadian-owned coal mine have shot and killed two workers as the miners attempted to reach an armoury during a wage protest, news reports say.

Forbes & Manhattan Coal, a Toronto-based mining company, suspended operations at its Magdalena and Aviemore mine after the incident, which comes amidst a wave of violent and sometimes lethal mining protests in South Africa.

At around 10:30 a.m. local time on Wednesday, “some of the workers apparently attempted to break into an armoury on the mine and they were dispersed by mine security,” Colonel Jay Naicker of the South African police said, as quoted by AFP.

Naicker said security guards chased two men into an “informal settlement near the mine,” where shots were fired, according to Dow Jones.

"In order to ensure the safety of all our employees and to safeguard our assets, we have taken a decision to suspend all operations until such time as deemed safe and appropriate by management and the board,” Forbes & Manhattan CEO Stephan Theron said in a statement. “Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with the family of the deceased employee."

The incident comes as South Africa struggles to come to grips with violent mining protests, which culminated in the killing of 34 miners at a Lonmin-owned platinum mine in August.

In a move that outraged protesters, the South African government charged 270 striking miners with murder over the incident, though it had been police that fired the bullets. A few weeks later, the country’s prosecution service announced it was dropping the charges.

In both the Lonmin strike and the Forbes & Manhattan strike, workers went on strike demanding higher wages.

Mining strikes have been breaking out all over the country in what has been described as the worst labour unrest in the country since the end of apartheid in 1994.

In an incident Tuesday, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse a crowd of 1,000 protesters outside a platinum mine owned by Anglo American Plantinum.

South Africa is a major producer of gold and accounts for 75 per cent of the world’s platinum production.



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