THE Church of England has
expressed concerns about the firm whose platinum mine was the
setting for the killing of 34 striking miners in South Africa last
year (News, 24 August
2012). Both the Church Commissioners and the C of E's pension
fund hold shares in Lonmin, which owns the Marikana mine, near
After a week-long wildcat
strike in August last year, police shot dead 34 miners who were
demanding better pay.
It has emerged that the
Church's Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) has contacted
Lonmin, which is based in London, several times since the shooting
to question the firm about its treatment of its workers.
In a statement, the EIAG
said that it wrote to Lonmin in August 2012 "to express its concern
about labour relations at Marikana. It also took advice from the
Church Investors Group in South Africa about the factors causing
labour unrest in platinum mining in South Africa."
Representatives from the
EIAG and Lonmin met in March this year, to discuss what EIAG
describes as the firm's "labour-relations problem". The statement
said: "The company recognised that the employment model at Marikana
. . . was not working. It explained that it was actively looking
into new employment and housing models."
The Church Commissioners'
shares in Lonmin are worth about £455,000, and the Pensions Board's
holding is approximately £250,000.
Research by the Bureau of
Investigative Journalism for The Observer revealed on
Sunday that, two days before the shooting, Lonmin bosses had met
police, and agreed that decisive action should be taken to break
the strike. There is no evidence that the company or the police
planned to shoot the miners, but the investigation describes how
Lonmin executives lobbied for greater police pressure on the
The EIAG statement said that it was following the latest
developments, and would "continue to engage with the company as
appropriate". Lonmin has refused to comment, as it is waiting to
give evidence to the official South African inquiry into the