Policemen keep watch over striking miners after they were shot outside a South African mine in Rustenburg, 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, August 16, 2012. South African police opened fire against thousands of striking miners armed with machetes and sticks at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine, leaving several bloodied corpses lying on the ground.

Rustenburg - The violent situation at Lonmin's Marikana mine was an example of exploitation by the mines, the Bench Marks Foundation said on Friday.

“The benefits of mining are not reaching the workers or the surrounding communities,” the foundation said in a statement.

“Lack of employment opportunities for local youth, squalid living conditions, unemployment and growing inequalities contribute to this mess.”

The Bench Marks Foundation is an independent, faith-based organisation monitoring how well companies perform in the field of social responsibility.

The foundation said it had a study which warned about the deteriorating social relations in communities, conflicts and the potential violence.

On Tuesday, it released a study entitled “Policy Gap 6, Living in the Platinum Minefields”. It looked at six mining communities and examined what had changed, what had improved, and what needed to be done.

Foundation chairman Jo Seoka said people living near mines were not benefiting from the profits.

“ 1/8The 3/8 concern is that private corporations, often with the support of government leaders, make very large profits while communities suffer high levels of inequality and poverty. The situation in Marikana testifies to this,” he told said at the launch of the study on Tuesday.

A total of 34 people were killed in a shootout that erupted near the mine on Thursday when police tried to disperse striking miners.

More than 78 people were injured.

Another 10 people had by then been killed in the violent protests at the mine over the past week.

The protests were believed to be linked to rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) over recognition agreements at the mine. Workers also wanted higher wages.

The Bench Marks Foundation on Friday said the violence at the Lonmin mine had nothing to do with inter-union rivalry.

“Seoka, when speaking to the striking workers yesterday, noted that they were in fact peaceful and just wanted the company to engage them,” it said.

Seoka said low wages along with all the social disintegration, crime, murder, rape and prostitution, unemployment and poverty amidst the third richest platinum mine in the world, created an incubator rife for worker and community discontent.

According to the National Development Plan, which was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, the South African economy was well endowed with mineral resources.

“Yet over the past decade the mining sector has failed to match the global growth trend in mineral exports due to poor infrastructure and regulatory and policy frameworks that hamper investment,” the NDP read.

“South Africa can benefit greatly from Asia's growing demand for commodities. To do so means improving water, transport and energy infrastructure and providing greater policy and regulatory certainty to investors.

“This will enable the mining sector to deploy the skills, resources, know-how and capital that are available, and for government to raise much more tax revenue that it does at present.”

Seoka said the situation at Lonmin could have been avoided.

“The killing of over 30 workers, and the quietness of Lonmin in all of this is truly shocking,” he said. - Sapa