Near the mountain city of Potosi in the southern highlands of Bolivia, the cone-shaped peak of Cerro Rico stands as a 15,800-foot monument to the tragedies of Spanish conquest. For centuries, Indian slaves mined the mountain's silver in brutal conditions to bankroll the Spanish empire.
Today, the descendants of those slaves run the mines. But hundreds of years of mining have left the mountain porous and unstable, and experts say it is in danger of collapsing.
In South Africa, thousands of mineworkers have embarked on industrial action that began with a deadly pay strike by platinum workers. They've agreed a wage deal with their management, this week, but the labor unrest is spreading to other platinum and gold mines in an industry that's the engine of South Africa's economy. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton discusses the repercussions with host Scott Simon.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
Mine workers in South Africa face a deadline tomorrow to return to work following a deadly dispute over pay and conditions. Violence erupted last month at the world's third-largest platinum mine. Thirty-four miners were shot dead in a confrontation with police. Striking miners are refusing to go back to work until their demands are met. And there are concerns about labor unrest, which has spread to other parts of the country's lucrative mining industry.
Nothing ignites controversy like having one of the world's richest women tell her fellow Australians that they need to cut labor costs in order to compete with Africans who are "willing to work for less than $2 a day."