A South African mining company has said a protesting employee was killed in a clash with police during a strike in the platinum-mining industry.

Anglo American Platinum said on Saturday that the man died on Friday when police were dispersing strikers using rocks and burning tyres to barricade a road leading to its Union mine near Northam town.

An investigation is under way, the company said.

It said the dead protester was an official with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, a labour group that is leading the strike by tens of thousands of workers. The strike for higher wages started January 23.

Anglo American also said another employee was in critical but stable condition after being assaulted by strikers while on his way to work. It said protesters had damaged vehicles.

The incident comes days after platinum producers said that talks aimed at ending a crippling two-week-old strike by miners had broken down, with no date set for further negotiations.

Government-brokered talks with the AMCU "have been adjourned as the parties have been unable to reach a settlement," three top producers said in a statement on Wednesday, according to the AFP news agency.

Wage wars

Criticising the AMCU for unwillingness to negotiate, the chief executives of Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum Holdings Limited (Implats) and Lonmin said the union's demand of a minimum $1,125 monthly wage was not feasible.

Separately, a fire and rock fall at Harmony Gold's Doornkop mine near Johannesburg left eight miners dead and one missing on Tuesday.

The accident was described as the most serious in South Africa's mines since nine workers died in a rock fall at a platinum mine in July 2009.

Susan Shabangu, the mineral resources minister, said in a statement on Thursday that the "situation is deeply regrettable".

"We must ensure that we do all we can to get to the bottom of what caused this incident in order to prevent similar occurrences in future," she said.

The company said the search continued for the ninth employee.

Source: Agencies