Simon Scott steps up to steady the ship at troubled miner Lonmin

LONMIN, the London-listed platinum mining giant mired in the fallout from a violent industrial strike in South Africa that has claimed 44 lives, yesterday named its chief financial officer as temporary chief executive.

Simon Scott takes over the helm from Ian Farmer, who has begun treatment for an unspecified illness, Lonmin said. The company said Farmer would not be able to return to work full-time for “some months”. Roger Phillimore, chairman of Lonmin, said in the stock exchange statement: “We are grateful to Simon for assuming these additional responsibilities.”

One of the first tasks Scott faces is the independent investigation launched into the deaths at the Marikana mine on 16 August, when 34 people were killed and nearly 80 injured after police opened fire on striking miners.

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Ten people had been killed in previous incidents related to the violent strike.

It has been dubbed as the worst episode of state violence since the ending of apartheid in South Africa in 1994. On the stock market yesterday, Lonmin’s shares at first slumped another 3 per cent to 621.43p after the announcement of the boardroom change before bouncing back to close ungnaged at 640p. The stock has lost about 14 per cent of its value in the past fortnight.

It comes as industry concerns mount that the disruption at Marikana could spread to other platinum mines in South Africa, and even other industries such as gold and coal.

“These developments pose significant risk to the industry,” Terence Goodlace, chief executive of Impala, the world’s second biggest platinum producer, said yesterday.

South Africa produces about 80 per cent of the world’s platinum.