By Zandi Shabalala and Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's new mines minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said on Wednesday that the deadlock in the country's crippling 18-week platinum strike would soon be broken as movement has been made on both sides.
Ramatlhodi appointed a government team on Wednesday to try and resolve the wage stoppage by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) at the world's top platinum producers. The team will meet the companies and union on Thursday at an undisclosed location.
"We will break the deadlock. I can say there has been movement on both sides," Ramatlhodi, who was sworn in on Monday, told Reuters.
He said a "political intervention is necessary" after several rounds of negotiations failed to end the strike at Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin.
"The country can't afford ... business as usual," he said.
The platinum wage strike has crippled 40 percent of global production of the precious metal and has lost producers a total of 20 billion rand, according to a live tally on an mining industry website. (http://www.platinumwagenegotiations.co.za/)
Ramatlhodi's other priorities include a possible review of the country's "mining charter", which sets out a number of targets on the industry, including one that calls for 26 percent black ownership by 2014, he said.
"We are going to have to re-look at the legislation ... There might be a review of the charter," he said.
(Reporting by Zandi Shabalala and Ed Stoddard; Editing by Joe Brock)