Ben Magara has dropped Anglo American to take over the helms at troubled platinum mining entity Lonmin, the company at the centre of the infamous Marikana massacre.
Lonmin, the third largest platinum miner in the world, announced the appointment of Magara as CEO yesterday together with the appointment of Shanduka Group CEO Phuthi Mahanyele as nonexecutive director. The move comes to push up Lonmin’s rating in the affirmative action scale but will be overshadowed by the poisoned labour relations.
The Lonmin CEO post had been left vacant, formerly since December after the resignation of Ian Farmer. Farmer’s ill health forced him to be out of action from August last year. In the same month Lonmin was visited by the ugly Marikana massacre which left 43 workers dead.
A commission of enquiry is underway to interrogate causes of the massacre but the company has already taken a lot of flak in public opinion for apparent mishandling of the situation. Its BEE partner and former nonexecutive director Cyril Ramaphosa has been lynched in public debates after emails where he was allegedly urging police to take tough action against workers were leaked and presented during the commission of enquiry.
Ramaphosa, the founder of BEE group Shanduka has since resigned as Lonmin director after he was elected as deputy president of the ANC in December last year. He has been reviewing his business interest to avoid conflict of interests. As such Mahanyele’s appointment into the board of Lonmin comes to replace Ramaphosa’s departure.
Magara lives Anglo where he occupied the position of Executive Head of Engineering and Capital Projects at Anglo American Platinum. Before this Magara was the CEO Anglo Coal South Africa
The Lonmin statement described Magara as commanding a 22 year distinguished career at the leading edge of the mining industry. “During his mining career he has shown an exceptional operational ability spanning mining supervision, management and leadership. Magara has also demonstrated an ability to work proactively and extensively with unions, government, and communities. He has a degree in Mining Engineering, has been a director of Anglo American South Africa since 2006, and is a non-executive director of Foskor”.
“Ben Magara is a Zimbabwean national, married with two children, and has been resident in South Africa for the last 19 years.
Lonmin’s Chairman, Roger Phillimore said “I am delighted to be able to announce the appointment of Ben Magara to lead Lonmin. The Company is performing well and our safety record is better than it has ever been. Our renewal plan is on track and progress is being made towards the better definition and achievement of our initiatives to improve both the working and living environment of all Lonmin employees for the benefit of all stakeholders and shareholders. The Board is confident that Ben’s extensive experience in working in South Africa and the mining community, his relationships and his demonstrated success in proactive relationship building with all stakeholders will drive Lonmin forward.”
Commenting on his appointment, Magara said “Lonmin is a company with excellent assets. I am excited at the prospect of leading Lonmin and contributing to making a positive difference. The success of the mining industry is vital to the future of South Africa and as the Lonmin team we will drive excellence and build value with and for all our stakeholders.”