We use recycled platinum, in large part, due to our long-standing commitment to reduce the effects of mining on the environment. Large-scale commercial mining devastates landscapes, displaces people, and can threaten our water supply. But this week, events in South Africa provide one more reason to be concerned about newly mined platinum.
Work has stopped at some of the world’s biggest platinum mines, as thousands of South African miners have gone on strike demanding a raise in pay. The miner’s union says that the miners, most of whom work deep underground in dangerous conditions, are demanding a “living wage,” which is more than double their current rate of pay. The mining companies say they cannot afford the pay increases because of high costs involved in mining this precious metal, of which South Africa supplies approximately 80% of the world’s reserves.
Let’s hope this strike remains peaceful on both sides. A new law has been passed that has made it illegal to carry dangerous weapons at public gatherings and protests. During the Marikana unrest in 2012 (the last time miners went on strike) police opened fire on miners carrying such weapons, alleging they were first threatened. Thirty-four miners were killed.
While platinum is regularly used in jewelry, its main end user is actually the auto industry.