Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the world’s biggest platinum producer, has dismissed 12,000 South African miners who chose to strike over pay and working conditions.

The move is an attempt to hit back at the workers whose unrelenting strikes have crippled the mining industry in the country.

The company said in a statement that as a result of the illegal industrial action of its employees at its five mines in the Rustenburg area, total lost platinum production has amounted to 39,000 ounces, resulting in approximately R700 million ($78 million) of lost revenue.

It has been three weeks since the Amplats chose to suspend operations at its mines after a six-week stoppage at Lonmin in August and September led to violent clashes between the National Union of Mineworkers and the Mineworkers and Construction Union.

Despite the company’s repeated calls for employees to return to work, it has continued to experience attendance levels of less than 20%.

"Currently four of the company’s mining operations in the Rustenburg area have insufficient staff to operate and only essential services are being carried out at those mines," Amplats said.

"The 12,000 striking employees chose not to make representations, nor attend the hearings, and have therefore been dismissed in their absence."

Amplats confirmed that it has also closed its Union and Amandelbult mines as strikes spread, but said that it will continue to work with local authorities and other stakeholders to support the restoration of law and order to the affected areas.

Anglo American Platinum CEO Chris Griffith said,"The company is committed to participating in the Platinum centralised engagement structures driven by the Chamber of Mines, as well as exploring the possibility of bringing forward wage negotiations within our current agreements."