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Miners’ strike shootings comes as tensions rise over pay claim

September 2012

A week of national mourning was declared in South Africa after 34 striking miners were gunned down at a platinum mine operated by London-based Lonmin in Marikana, North West province.
 
As well as the 34 deaths and 78 wounded – caused when police say they used maximum force to defend themselves – ten more people, including two police officers, died during the strike over a wage claim. 
 
The miners, who currently earn up to 5,000 rand ($596, £376, €475) a year, want their salary increased to 12,500 rand ($1,490). The Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union, which is challenging the more conservative National Union of Mineworkers, made the wage claim. 
 
The Marikana miners’ poor living conditions have been known for some time. A report, prepared for Lonmin in 2006, detailed the severe poverty in and around Marikana, and showed that more than 60% of families live on less than 400 rand per household member per month. 
 
Some households occasionally run out of food, while many lack clean water. Drinking water and sanitation facilities are inadequate.
 
Malnutrition is prevalent in the communities and a number of children suffer from kwashiorkor – a condition that occurs when there is insufficient protein in the diet.
 
A more recent study, conducted as a follow-up, identified air pollution as well as access to water and sanitation as serious concerns for the community.
 
The Bench Marks Foundation, an NGO that monitors CSR efforts, has identified a number of failed initiatives
 while studying the impact of mines on communities in the area.
 
Among these is a multimillion-rand hydroponics project set up by Lonmin. The project collapsed allegedly after a dispute with a sub-contractor.
 
Lonmin shares tumbled after the killings, falling to levels not seen since the depths of the financial crisis in December 2008.



Lonmin | Africa | Mining

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