UPDATE 2-Striking S.Africa gold miners reject pay offer


* Union says options in gold dispute now "exhausted"

* Platinum output falls 1.9 pct in August

* One man burnt to death in protest

(Adds man killed, trucker strike latest)

By Sherilee Lakmidas and Agnieszka Flak

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Striking gold miners inSouth Africa have rejected the industry's latest wage offer, atrade union said on Thursday, dimming hopes that wildcat strikesthat have paralysed the sector could end anytime soon.

Since August, almost 100,000 workers across South Africa -including 75,000 in the mining sector - have downed tools inoften illegal and violent strikes that are hitting economicgrowth and undermining investor confidence in the minerals hub.

"This was a final offer from the companies. They said takeit or leave it," Lesiba Seshoka, spokesman for the NationalUnion of Mineworkers said. "Now that it has been rejected ouroptions have been exhausted."

Africa's top two bullion producers, AngloGold Ashanti

and Gold Fields , have been hit by an estimated48,000 miners taking to the streets to fight for higher wages.

The action is costing AngloGold 32,000 ounces of gold eachweek, while Gold Fields is losing 2,300 ounces a day at the twomines that have been affected.

The companies said they would respond later via the Chamberof Mines, the industry body that has been negotiating on theirbehalf.

The wildcat strikes, which started in the platinum industryand then spread to other mining companies and beyond, haveraised questions about President Jacob Zuma's leadership andtarnished South Africa's reputation among foreign investors.

Africa's biggest economy is home to 80 percent of knownreserves of platinum. The price of the precious metal hasrisen more than 20 percent since police shot 34 miners on Aug.16, the bloodiest security incident since the end of apartheidin 1994.

<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ For related graphics: SAFRICA-MINES/TIMELINE - SAFRICA-MINES/ - ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^> DEATH TOLL EXCEEDS 50

The death toll from the labour unrest has risen to more than50, and the violence continues.

Police said on Thursday that one man had been burnt to deathand another was fighting for his life after being shot at theIkanini informal settlement near an Anglo American Platinum

mine in Rustenburg, 120 km (70 miles) northwest ofJohannesburg.

"The volatility in the area is a result of the ongoing minestrikes. This is linked to the strike action," Thulani Ngubane,a police spokesman, said. Twenty people had been arrested, hesaid.

South Africa's production of platinum group metals fell 1.9percent in August compared to the same month last year, datashowed on Thursday, while output of gold, which only began to behot by strikes in September, rose marginally.

The government estimates that gold and platinum productionworth 4.5 billion rand ($517 million) has been lost to thestrikes so far, along with 118 million rand in lost coalproduction.

Central Bank governor Gill Marcus said this week thedomestic economic outlook was "deteriorating rapidly", with theunrest likely to lead to job losses.

The mines employ around 500,000 people.

State-run logistics group Transnet's cargo volumes havedeclined by 3-4 percent in volume terms in the past month, saidSiyabonga Gama, head of its freight rail unit.

"If there's no production and stocks are depleted the wholeeconomy suffers," he told Reuters on the sidelines of a consumergoods conference in Johannesburg.

Beyond mining, wage talks with the main union behind athree-week truck driver strike that has hit supplies of fuel,cash and consumer goods, collapsed again this week. Port andrail workers are expected to join their colleagues in a one-daysympathy protest next week.

Government employees also plan to strike from next week.

The South African Petroleum Industry Association said petrolstations were experiencing delays of up to a day in getting fueland that some had run completely dry.

The rand fell to a 3-1/2 year low against thedollar earlier this week and Moody's cut South Africa'sgovernment bond rating last month, citing the government'sdifficulty in keeping up with spreading unrest.($1 = 8.7032 South African rand)

(Additional reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng in Johannesburgand Joshua Nhlapo in Ikanini; Editing by Ed Cropley and AndrewOsborn)

((agnieszka.flak@thomsonreuters.com)(+27 11 775 3154)(ReutersMessaging: agnieszka.flak.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))