Johannesburg – Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi should persist with talks aimed at ending Amcu’s strike in the platinum mining sector, the DA said on Monday.

“Government must continue to be part of efforts to end the strike by bringing parties towards a mutually beneficial solution,” Democratic Alliance spokesperson James Lorimer said in a statement.

“This is no time for the minister to run and hide.”

Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union members (Amcu) at Impala Platinum [JSE:IMP], Lonmin [JSE:LON], and Anglo American Platinum [JSE:AMS] have been on strike since January 23 demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500.

Lorimer said the strike, which has cost workers around R9.6bn in lost wages and producers around R21.7bn in lost revenue, was a crucial test of Ramatlhodi’s leadership.

“The minister’s decision to abandon these negotiations will undoubtedly compromise them, our economy, as well as the minister and his department’s credibility in future.”

Ramatlhodi’s spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

The DA recommended that government reconsider and reform spending on mining royalties.

“The administration of royalty reinvestments in mining communities through an independent and capacitated agency would create a mutually-beneficial environment for both mining companies and their employees.”

On Monday the AHi also voiced concern about the protracted strike.

It said in a statement that of great concern are also plans to expand the platinum strike to other mining sectors such as the gold sector.

“If the strike in the platinum sector is however not resolved soon, the government has little option but to declare it as an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and economy of South Africa.”

It said the state of the economy is in serious trouble, warning that the country faces further economic contractions if unions continue disrupting economic output.

Th strike is taking a toll on everyone and towns such as Rustenburg risks a complete economic meltdown, said the AHi.

“Thousands of families are facing a winter of hardship and possible starvation. Local businesses are closing their doors one by one and schools can no longer pay educators who are appointed by governing bodies.”

Ramatlhodi last week set up an inter-governmental team to help resolve the wage dispute between Amcu and the platinum producers.

On Saturday he told reporters in Irene, Pretoria, that he would walk away from the talks if the parties failed to find each other.

Government could take the warring “parties to the river but can’t force them to drink”, he said.

Both parties had been negotiating in good faith and government had done enough to mediate, particularly in the past two weeks, he said.