Lonmin boss quits mining group

Ian Farmer’s resignation ends four-year tenure at top of business rocked this year by violent deaths of 34 staff in South Africa

Lonmin’s chief executive has quit the mining group, three months after serious illness forced him to stand aside.

Ian Farmer’s resignation has been accepted with immediate effect, Lonmin said, ending his four-year tenure at the top of a business that has been rocked by the violent deaths of 34 staff during a strike in South Africa. The business will continue to be led on a temporary basis by its chief financial officer, Simon Scott, who took the helm when Farmer went on leave in August. However, Lonmin said Scott has ruled himself out of the running to succeed Farmer and will return to his official role once a new chief executive is appointed.

Roger Phillimore, the chairman, said the group would “greatly miss” Farmer’s ability following a 26-year career at Lonmin. “We wish him well with his ongoing treatment and will stay in close touch with him as a valued colleague and friend,” said Phillimore. It is understood that Farmer had been in contact with senior colleagues throughout his treatment, but has now decided to focus on his health after Lonmin shareholders backed an $817m (£510m) rights issue to repair a balance sheet damaged by strikes at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in South Africa. Lonmin is the world’s third largest platinum producer.

However, the general meeting that approved the cash call also saw criticism of the group’s management and handling of the strikes. South African police shot 34 miners in August during a dispute over wages. Industrial disputes have since engulfed other mining groups including Anglo American Platinum, the world’s largest platinum producer, which sacked 12,000 workers by text message in October. In the wake of the Marikana shootings, Lonmin gave its staff a 22% pay rise. Lonmin said this month that Scott has been awarded a bonus and one-off cash award of almost £1m despite the Marikana tragedy.

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