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Lonmin set for protests at AGM as Sibanye deal drags on

Jon Yeomans
A Lonmin worker

Platinum miner Lonmin will face protesters at its annual general meeting in London today as its long-drawn out takeover by South African peer Sibanye-Stillwater rumbles on.

Protesters are expected to demand that the company pay compensation to the families of mine workers killed in a shooting during a strike in 2012. They will also call on South African authorities to release mine workers imprisoned after the protests.

In August 2012, South African police opened fire on striking workers at one of Lonmin's mines near the town of Marikana, killing 34.

A further 10 people died over the course of several days.

Lonmin never entirely recovered from the disaster and has been laid low by a slump in the price of platinum, a silvery metal used in catalytic converters in cars. In Dec 2017, it agreed to be taken over by gold miner Sibanye-Stillwater in a £285m deal.

The takeover received the green light from competition watchdogs in the UK and South Africa last year, but has been challenged by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which is opposed to the 12,000 job losses that could result.

A court hearing on the case has been set in South Africa on April 2. The companies have extended the long stop date on the deal until June.

A Lonmin spokesman said the deal would result in a more "resilient" company.

"While Lonmin's financial position has improved since the announcement of the transaction, it continues to be fragile and significantly exposed to changes in commodity prices, currency rates and operating conditions," she added.

In its last quarterly trading update, Lonmin reported a 7pc fall in production but prices across its basket of commodities, including better-performing metals such as palladium and rhodium, rose 11.2pc.

Last year's AGM was supposed to be the last for Lonmin as a separate entity, bringing to an end a history stretching back more than a century. It was previously part of a pan-Africa conglomerate called Lonhro.