Developments in the ongoing mineworkers strikes in South Africa have potentially significant ramifications for the natural resource sector globally. These labor relations, which turned horribly violent in early August, while economic in nature have their basis in more political and thus more highly charged issues. At the core, indigenous workers in places like South Africa demand a fair and equitable wage, but there is also a sense that somehow the resources they are so dutifully bringing to the surface for the benefit of others is also somehow their own sovereign birthright. Actions in Zimbabwe as well as recent chatter in South Africa as well suggest that this sentiment is also shared by those at the top. These recent wage talks are important because they will disclose the extent to which “safe” countries like South Africa are willing to interject themselves into private economic discussions for the sake of social stability. Producers as well as major consumers will be watching very closely.

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