JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- A deal to end South Africa's longest mining strike has been reached in "principle" between three platinum-producing companies and leaders of a union representing tens of thousands of miners, the companies said Thursday.
Leaders of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union will consult with members on the proposed agreement on wages and other employment conditions, and feedback from the labor chiefs is expected on Friday, according to a statement from the companies, which gave no proposed wage figures.
The companies -- Lonmin, Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum -- estimate the strike has cost several billion dollars in lost earnings for workers as well as company revenue. The industry is a pillar of the struggling South African economy, and there have been sporadic reports of violence around platinum mines during the strike.
In 2012, South African police fatally shot several dozen protesters during labor unrest at a Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, near Rustenburg.
The strike for higher wages started on Jan. 23.
The proposed deal to end the strike would "seek to achieve a sustainable future for the three platinum companies for the benefit of all stakeholders and to afford employees the best possible increase under the current financial circumstances," said the statement from the mining companies.
The companies will help employees return safely to a "normal working environment" if a deal is confirmed, according to the statement.
The union has demanded a basic monthly wage of $1,170. The companies have offered to bring basic salaries to that level in a few years.
South Africa is a major producer of platinum, which is used in medical, electronic and other industries.
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