Lonmin picks Amplats executive Ben Magara as new CEO

2013-04-02 13:01

South African platinum producer Lonmin PLC has appointed Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) executive Ben Magara as its new chief executive as it strives to rebound from a wave of deadly strikes which hammered it last year.

Magara, who will start in July, will be tasked with guiding Lonmin’s turnaround and improving industrial relations at the company after illegal strikes last year triggered violence which killed 46 people, including 34 strikers shot dead by police in a single day at its Marikana mine.

A Zimbabwean national who ran Anglo America’s South African coal operations before taking over engineering and capital projects at Amplats, Magara faces a militant labour force which closed Marikana for a day last month, embarrassing Lonmin as it hosted a media tour.

Lonmin had been searching for a new chief executive since the end of last year, when Ian Farmer officially stepped aside due to illness.

The company has been recovering and in January said production in the last three months of 2012 bounced back more strongly than expected from crippling strikes.

Platinum, used in catalytic converters in cars, has come under pressure since the global economic downturn.

The strikes, weak platinum prices and high costs forced Lonmin to turn to investors in November to raise R7.5 billion to avoid breaching lending terms.

Lonmin said Simon Scott, who has been acting chief executive since August 2012, will resume his role as chief financial officer when Magara joins.

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