Africa Mining: SA Lonmin community wants operations suspended on social failings

Lonmin community wants operations suspended on social failings

JOHANNESBURG – Lonmin should have its operations suspended in South Africa after years of failing to comply with its social and labour commitments, according to the community living around its mines.

The Bapo Ba Mogale and the Mining Forum of South Africa, a civil society group, wrote to President Jacob Zuma and the Department of Mineral Resources to request the suspension, they said in an emailed statement Wednesday.

Chief Executive Officer Ben Magara met with the DMR last week and was given an “ultimatum” by Director General Thabo Mokoena to return to compliance, the groups said. Lonmin was found to have breached elements of the social and labour plan, which is required by law, earlier this year, a person familiar with the matter said last month.

Lonmin will probably publish a statement later Wednesday, said spokesperson Wendy Tlou. The DMR didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Lonmin has circumvented compliance willfully and purposefully, a practice they have mastered for years with intent to secure interests of capital at the expense of the disadvantaged and the poor,” the Bapo Ba Mogale and Mining Forum of South Africa said. “They have a proven track record of presiding and surviving on hopelessness, volatility, death, instability, poverty and violence.”

Lonmin, the world’s third-largest platinum miner, has had a fractious relationship with its host community for many years. High unemployment, the growth of informal settlements, and migration of job seekers from other parts of the country have exacerbated tensions at a time of low platinum prices and rising costs. The company said this week it may cut about 450 jobs, or about 1.8% of its workforce.

Magara has agreed to spend R200-million a year on procurement contracts with the Bapo as part of a 2014 black empowerment deal that saw the community swap royalty payments for equity in the company. However, the community wants more ownership of mining assets, procurement opportunities, training and jobs, it said. (source: Bloomberg)

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