As strike negotiations between South Africa’s Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and top platinum producers remain deadlocked, the mining minister quit mediating, pushing sub-Saharan Africa’s No. 1 economy deeper into recession. Beginning Q1, the walkout shuttered mines representing 40% of global platinum; South Africa enjoys the continent’s greatest mineral resources.

Government officials cited a Monday deadline with union reps seeking to double monthly salary increases to $1,200 after 70,000 AMCU members abandoned operations by Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin. In a joint statement, the companies pledged to “review further options available,” minus details. Union leaders on the other hand, “have made many concessions,” AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa told reporters.

Since January, AMCU and mining companies held numerous talks, with companies offering raises approaching 10%, while raising the overall minimum pay to $1,200 by Q3 2017, including housing. Union reps, however, have rejected offers by the miners and government mediators alike. Of both sides, Mining Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said Pretoria officials could “take them to the river, but not make them drink,” as quoted by Reuters in the capital.

Yet others, like Mining Ministry spokesman Mahlodi Muofhe, said a resolution remains inevitable — and relatively soon, according to local media. “We don't think the parties have the appetite to continue with this impasse much longer,” he said.

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