(Adds quote, details)
JOHANNESBURG, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Construction of Pan African
Resources 1.7 billion rand ($126 million)
project in South Africa to produce gold from mine dumps has been
halted the past two days because of protests and assaults on its
workers, its CEO said on Thursday.
Such protests are a common feature on South Africa's
platinum belt, where deals with tribal authorities have
triggered community resentment, but the gold sector has
generally escaped such disruptions.
Cobus Loots told Reuters that a community group demanding
jobs and business opportunities was behind the protests and the
company hoped to restart construction at the project, which aims
to begin producing gold in the second half of 2018, as soon as
"It's a pit that a small group of people with their own
agendas are disrupting, a project which is so beneficial for the
whole area," Loots said.
The protests are taking place around the Elikhulu project in
Evander, 100 kms (60 miles) southeast of Mpumalanga province.
Loots said the group's demands included the provision of
procurement opportunities for local entrepreneurs but he said
the company was "already doing that."
He said the community group behind the protests was called
Sivukile, which is a signatory to the agreement and part of the
steering committee on the project. Its leaders could not be
reached for comment.
South Africa has an unemployment rate of above 25 percent
its economy is still defined by glaring income disparities and
widespread poverty over two decades after the end of apartheid,
providing fertile ground for social unrest.
($1 = 13.4877 rand)
(Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg and Ed Stoddard; Editing by James
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