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JOHANNESBURG - An irate community on whose mineral-endowed land Lonmin, the world's third largest platinum producer, operates wants the company's operations to be shut following its failure to meet promises set out in the Social and Labour Plans (SLPs).

The Mining Forum of South Africa (MFSA) and Bapo Ba Mogale Investments (BBMI) acting on behalf of the Traditional Council made an emboldened call for Lonmin mines to be suspended. The call comes after the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) in August ordered Lonmin to rectify non-compliance with the Mineral and Petroleum Development Act (MPRDA) when an audit revealed that the miner had failed to meet its Social and Labour Plan (SLP) commitments between 2014 and 2017.

The audit found that Lonmin had not complied with commitments made in 2014 - two years after 44 mineworkers died violently in what ultimately became known as the Marikana massacre. “As a collective, due to this pronouncement by the DMR, we call for all Lonmin operations to be suspended due to failure to adhere to SLPs,” the statement said.

Also read: Lonmin raises concern after mineworkers gunned down

SLP sets out how the company intends to share some of the benefits that flow from mining. These include, for example, initiatives for developing the skills of their employees and upgrading local schools and roads. The DMR requires that companies submit their SLP when they apply for a mining right.

“We believe that Lonmin has now become a law unto itself, regardless of the SLPs document being an obligation and a legal document." Lonmin spokesperson Wendy Tlou, however, declined to comment, other than to say: “We will comment at a later stage once we have perused the statement in detail.”

The Bapo Ba Mogale Investments is a non-profit organisation run by executives appointed by the Bapo Ba Mogale Traditional Authority. It also wrote a letter to President Jacob Zuma, making a plea that the DMR consider suspending Lonmin’s operations.

Obligations

In the letter, Bapo Ba Mogale Investments said Lonmin had failed to meet its socio-economic obligations, which included infrastructure and job creation in the area, in terms of the mining charter. “Lonmin Platinum continues to exploit minerals that belong to the royal family and its traditional community without ploughing back to the community sufficiently,” said the letter.

Bapo Ba Mogale Investments also argued in the letter to Zuma that Lonmin was able to support Shanduka through vendor financing, including advanced dividend loans amounting to R4 billion, but has failed to empower the community and alleviate unemployment.

Shanduka, previously headed by Cyril Ramaphosa, owned a 9 percent stake in Lonmin. It also blamed Lonmin for failing to build houses. In May Lonmin shut its E2 and E3 shafts near Bapong in the North West to protect employees after members of the local community disrupted operations while protesting for jobs.

- BUSINESS REPORT