The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union on Friday said that it had agreed in principle to a deal to end the country’s longest-ever mining strike, a day after platinum producers announced the agreement.

“In principle we have agreed to the offer,” Joseph Mathunjwa, the leader of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, told the Sapa news agency.

“There are still issues that we need to consult with the employer,” the agency quoted him as saying.

His comments came a day after South Africa’s three main platinum producers – Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin – said that they had struck a deal in principle that union leaders would now take to members for final approval.

The strike at South Africa’s platinum mines began in January, when tens of thousands of workers downed tools demanding higher wages, and has crippled the sector.

The work stoppage helped push the country’s economy into contraction in the first quarter of this year, its first contraction since the global economic crisis five years ago, raising the spectre of recession.

South Africa holds around 80 percent of the world’s known platinum reserves, and platinum group metals raked in 9.0 percent of export earnings last year.

The Fitch ratings agency on Friday revised South Africa’s outlook to negative from stable, partly because of the effect that the strike has had on the economy.