Full report of the Lonmin AGM 25 March 2019
by Richard Solly, Co-ordinator, London Mining Network, with assistance from Andy Higginbottom, Daniel Selwyn, Maren Grimm, Markus Dufner, Nima Mudey and Tilman Massa.
A loud and colourful demonstration took place outside the meeting venue for an hour before the AGM began. Several of us then went in to the AGM to demand justice for mine workers and their families suffering around the company’s operations at Marikana, South Africa, where a massacre of striking mine workers took place in August 2012.
1. Chairman Brian Beamish began the meeting exactly on time. He said he was happy to meet the shareholders as it was his only opportunity for meeting most of them during the year. He introduced the board of directors, drawing particular attention to the make-up of the Social, Ethics and Transformation Committee. [Now there is an interestingly and ambitiously named entity. It must be extraordinarily busy.]
2. He said that the AGM was not the forum to discuss or approve the proposed takeover by Sibanye Stillwater and asked shareholders to defer any detailed questions on this matter until the Extraordinary General Meeting.
3. He said that 2018 had seen Lonmin return to profit ($101 million), closing the year with an improved net cash position and improved collaboration with stakeholders. Platinum group metal (PGM) prices had improved. The rand was stronger against the dollar. The company’s safety indicators showed significant improvement. A fifteen month fatality-free period had ended with a worker death in September 2018. Two had occurred more recently – one on 5 December and another on 19 March. He said that zero harm was possible and that the company works hard with all stakeholders to achieve it.
4. He said that the company was committed to improving the living standards of its employees within its financial constraints. It was committed to delivering on its Social Labour Plan, especially regarding housing. This has an impact on workers’ ability to work well, he said. It had committed 500 million rand to housing projects from 2014 to 2018 and pays ‘living out’ fees for workers who do not want to live in company accommodation. The promised accommodation units continue to be delivered. In 2019 the home ownership plan commenced.
5. He said that the company’s refinancing removes the ‘tangible network covenant’ associated with the previous financing. This improves the situation but only lasts three years and the company’s liquidity is still insufficient to drive expansion and avoid job losses.
6. He said that figures for the first quarter of the company’s current financial year, to the end of December 2018, were down, especially because of the fatalities and associated safety stoppages, which affected production. Incidents of fatalities impacted on morale and production. There were adverse conditions at one shaft. Poor production and high unit costs had continued into quarter two, offsetting improved PGM prices.
7. He thanked the company’s employees for their hard work. He thanked board and the executive team, especially Chief Executive Officer Ben Magara and Chief Financial Officer Barrie van de Merwe for their financial discipline and motivation. One shareholder called out “Here, here!” very loudly. He later argued vigorously with our friends Andy Higginbottom of Marikana Miners Solidarity Campaign and Daniel Selwyn of student movement Decolonising Environmentalism.
8. Regarding the proposed takeover by Sibanye Stillwater, he said that Lonmin was focused on factors within its control to preserve cash and liquidity. It had improved lost time by 26%. It had ‘reduced 8,000 positions’ [i.e. thrown 8,000 workers out of a job…]. It had kept unit cost increases below inflation. It had kept cash discipline. It had achieved its key objective of being net cash positive at the end of every quarter. But it was nonetheless constrained and unable to fund the investment required. Challenges were facing Lonmin and the whole industry. The company was vulnerable to PGM price volatility and exchange rates. It needed a sustainable solution to the problem. The board unanimously recommended the all share takeover offer from Sibanye Stillwater. This would create a larger, more diversified and stronger company. It would enable shareholders to benefit from the synergies of the situation. The merger had been delayed by the appeal filed by mine workers’ union AMCU. As this would not be heard until April the ‘longstop date’ by which the merger was hoped to have been completed had been put back from 28 February to 30 June. Brian Beamish said that the delay was detrimental to all stakeholders. He noted that under the UK takeover code there were restrictions on disclosure of new information regarding the takeover, and this would mean that he may not be able to answer detailed questions about the matter at the AGM.
9. He then called for questions.
Health, Safety and Fatalities
10. An elderly shareholder, who said he was 90 years old and had owned Lonmin shares for a long time, said he was concerned about the health and safety of the company’s workers. Clearly referring to the Marikana Massacre, he said there had been a ‘big problem six years ago’ and asked how the company was solving it.
11. Brian Beamish replied that the board regarded the safety and health of its employees as key to its existence. It was non-negotiable in the way Lonmin operates, he said. The company had recently been fairly successful – before Sept 2018 it ran for 15 months without fatalities, proving it can run without fatalities. Safety is the first item of every meeting. There is a programme of very visible leadership regarding safety. There are safety improvement programmes at all levels of the business. It is dreadful when someone dies at work. Death breaks momentum and morale. It has a negative impact on both morale and results, creating difficulties emotionally and in production. There is a close link between the two. Safety is key to production.
12. [I find it interesting that he felt the need to say that fatalities affect production levels. Given the expressed attitude of a few of the shareholders present on this and previous occasions, I suspect that he had concluded that some of them really would not care about worker deaths if they did not also affect production and profit levels. Of the many mining company AGMs that London Mining Network attends, the attitudes of certain individual shareholders of Lonmin and Vedanta seem somehow more openly callous than those of the others.]
13. Another shareholder asked how families of labourers were notified of fatalities. Brian Beamish said that they were notified personally and invited to the site to see what had happened, and statutory payments were made, and work offered to family members.
14. [This I find quite extraordinary. A mine worker has been killed on the job. A company official comes to the worker’s house, tells the family they are dead, and offers to employ them in the same mine where their loved one has been killed. This is what has been offered to the widows of the mine workers murdered by police during the 2012 strike. The justification offered is that the family needs an income, and offering them a job is an act of kindness. What about offering decent levels of compensation so that they do not need the job?]
Housing, Job Losses and the Social Labour Plan
15. Andy Higginbottom, of Marikana Miners Solidarity Campaign, said: “My question concerns the need for full guarantees that the outstanding social commitments by Lonmin will be met in the likely event of the Sibanye-Stillwater takeover. In particular, the Social Labour Plan, a legal requirement under the Mineral Resources Development Act, and first committed to in 2006 to build 5,500 appropriate and affordable homes, has still not been implemented by Lonmin. Nor has the second SLP. The trade union AMCU reports that “Existing hostels need to be upgraded; newly build hostels are of substandard quality; the Nkanemg Informal Settlement need an in situ upgrade, with the assistance of both the State and Lonmin;” and that “its members want proper engagement on the Housing Project”. This disappointing picture is confirmed by women’s organization Sikhala Sonke. What guarantees will you give that the SLP will be implemented in consultation with the trade union and community? Another major concern is the threat of job cuts and redundancies to twelve thousand six hundred workers. Noting the company’s improved financial position, as reported in the Annual Report, will you now commit to lift the threat of these massive redundancies?”
16. Brian Beamish replied: “The company has done its best to look after the interests of our employees within the resources that we have. The company committed to build those houses and we have discussed this at every AGM over the past few years. We committed to facilitate the building of 5,500 houses, but this was misguided. This company has had its current rent-to-buy programme since 2005. We have built 1149 houses but have only sold 202 houses. We assumed that if we built houses for our employees they would buy them. [I wondered, ‘why didn’t you ask them what they wanted instead of assuming you knew?’] But the bulk of employees do not want to buy houses close to the mine. We spent 520 million rand, more than we undertook to spend, mostly on converting 2,700 single sex hostel places into mixed accommodation.”
17. He said that the company also bought a number of flats and spent another 420 million rand on accommodation or other housing measures. He went on, “Over the two SLPs we have spent almost a billion rand. When we did not build the 5,500 houses we had regular discussions with the Minister of Mines and Energy, and redirected our spend into more appropriate projects. Those plans continue in the new SLP which we have submitted, and we are waiting for formal acceptance. Those commitments will carry over regardless of the Sibanye Stillwater takeover. Sibanye Stillwater has committed to this.”
18. He then spoke about the “accusation regarding substandard accommodation”. He said that the company had built 44 blocks of flats. Two were built across a fault, so there was differential settlement of the two halves of each blocks. The union had chosen to highlight these as unacceptable living conditions despite the fact that the company had moved people out as soon as the cracks appeared, had provided alternative accommodation, and was fixing the problems. “We go out of our way to attend to the needs of our employees.”
19. Regarding job losses, he said that shafts were being mined out and the company has insufficient capital to replace them. Lonmin is focusing on becoming a more productive lower cost operation and those jobs will therefore fall away. The company cannot cover the cost of new shafts. “We keep the shafts running as long as they are economic,” he said, “so we can provide extended employment to our employees, but ultimately those jobs will have to fall away. We have to produce metal in line with the prices we receive. If the situation improves dramatically and there is a massive injection of capital we are happy to look at expansion, but under current conditions we will lose those 12,600 jobs.”
20. Andy Higginbottom pointed out that the figure given was not much when you divide it by 30,000 workers. “It is not much to spend, and the vast majority of the workforce do not have decent housing. A final point: I do not represent the trade union and I am only reporting their point of view, but they say there is insufficient consultation with their members over the quality and quantity of housing, and I seek your assurance that there will be consultation.”
21. Brian Beamish replied: “We have consultation with AMCU all the time. [There was some laughter in the room at this statement.] We are happy to do it and do it all the time to promote employment and make a profit for our business. This company with metal prices as they have been has had three rights issues and raised just under 1.7 billion dollars and returned 60 million to shareholders in dividends, so shareholders have ploughed huge amounts of money into the business. Despite this we have worked to improve accommodation for workers. The company does more than most others would have dreamt of doing.”
22. Andy Higginbottom asked how many shareholders were living in shacks like the workers. Brian Beamish retorted, “We have shown massive commitment to building and acquiring housing. Is it enough? No. Are we committed? Yes!”
23. Another long-term shareholder who said he had owned shares “since the time of Tiny Roland” [which drew laughter from Brian Beamish and several shareholders] asked about waste removal. South Africa and the UK would both be very short of water in the future. “What are you doing to conserve water?”
24. Brian Beamish replied that water is a major issue, especially potable water. “South Africa is a dry country and water is a focus point. People come before industry and potable water is crucial. We spend much time looking at how to use less water and recover more water from tailings facilities. We also look at how to move water across the property. We have had opencast mining over the past decade. Because you move solid rock you create a porous volume and rain water sinks in and we are recovering this from mined-out pits.”
Tax, Dividends and Pay Differentials, Apartheid and Black Lives
25. Daniel Selwyn, from student movement Decolonisin Environmentalism, said his question concerned “the company’s reputation currently and historically, involving its violation of the sanctions regime and upholding of the infamous apartheid system. We have spoken about financial difficulties,” he said, “but Lonmin paid $607 million in dividends to its shareholders in the four years preceding the massacre. Lonmin also diverted $160 million to tax havens in Bermuda. Just 20% of your shareholders’ dividends would have paid for the 5,500 affordable homes you are legally obligated to provide your workers and the community with in your Social Labour Plan. In 2007, the International Finance Corporation invested $50 million in your company, $15 million specifically for community development. But in 2012 when the Massacre happened, you had built just three, uninhabitable show-houses. At the time of the massacre, company CEO Ian Farmer was earning 236 times more than the mineworkers were murdered for demanding in 2012.
26. “In the 13 years since the SLP was agreed, why has Lonmin still failed to fulfil its legal obligations to its workers and the community? How many genuinely affordable accommodation units and apartments have now been built? What has happened to all the money Lonmin accumulated over decades of plunder and extraction? Why are Black lives so cheap to white mining and finance capital? ”
27. A shareholder turned and pointed at Daniel, shouting, “That’s a cheap question. That’s cheap, mentioning black lives.” Daniel repeated the pay differential to him.
28. Brian Beamish replied: “We have answered some of this – regarding housing and the amounts paid out in dividends. Regarding pay differentials – the reality is that for the executive management there is a market and you have to attract and retain the level of skills available in that market. Regarding the general workforce there is also a market for labour. This is the way the world works. Unions negotiate for their members in the market. The famous rock drill operator level which has been much spoken about especially by the union: Lonmin pays a base salary of just over 12,000 rand per month and when you add allowances it comes to just under 20,000 rand. The 19,400 we pay compares with a national average of just over 14,000. We are a good payer, over the average nationally and in the mining industry nationally. There are markets for senior executives and another market for workers.”
29. Daniel asked, “Why can executives get millions in bonuses while workers who demand more money for working in very dangerous work do not get it? This is exploitation.” Brian Beamish said he appreciated Daniel’s view but did not share it.
Notice of Meetings, and Racism in the Visa Application System
30. Nima Mudey, also from student movement Decolonising Environmentalism, asked about the period of notice for shareholder meetings. She said: “My question concerns the period of notice for shareholders’ meetings. Notice of this AGM was sent out just over three weeks ago, in accordance with UK law. However, this period of notice is very short for representatives from South Africa wishing to attend the meeting to raise matters of pressing concern for the communities affected by the company’s operations at Marikana. Our friends Bishop Jo Seoka and lawyer Andries Nkome applied for visas to visit the UK to attend this meeting but as of Friday afternoon they had not received them, making it impossible for them to attend.
31. “The average time to process a visa according to the British government website takes between 10-15 days, with some cases taking up to 60 days to be fully processed. This of course does not include weekends, making the three week notice far too short to ensure the communities’ voices are represented here in this meeting. The cost of the visa is 1851 South African Rand, roughly £100 sterling, which, coupled with the cost of flights, is another obstacle barring their presence here today. This isn’t an accident, because within the Hostile Environment enforced by the Home Office there have been many cases where applicants from African nations have had their visa applications delayed or denied for trivial or simply untrue reasons.
32. “In an article from the Guardian, specialist immigration lawyer Jan Doerful said he believes that there is a “general refusal culture, both within the Home Office and UK Visas and Immigration at entry clearance posts [and] there appears to be a deep underlying racism (whether direct or indirect) in the way many applicants are treated – meaning they may actually meet all the immigration rules, such as maintenance and accommodation, but unlawful reasons are found to refuse them that they will never be able to supercede and that are purely motivated by racism, coupled with a desire to keep numbers low.
33. “Yet British passport holders do not require a visa to visit South Africa for less than 90 days. What is this double standard? Another way, perhaps, for Britain to remind the world of its status as a former coloniser, who can still freely move around the world without visas to restrict them, but will not allow a reciprocal relationship, instead creating huge hurdles through extortionate visa fees and slow processing times – with no guarantee of acceptance – to prevent those especially from the Global South entry in the name of protecting its borders.
34. “The next meeting of shareholders is to be the EGM called to consider the proposed takeover of Lonmin by Sibanye Stillwater. How will you make sure that community representatives are able to attend the next EGM? Will you commit to giving much more than the statutory minimum legal notice – which is two weeks for EGMS – of the meeting so that community representatives from South Africa have time to receive their visas?”
35. Brian Beamish replied: “These are circumstances beyond our control. Our calendar is fairly well known. We do operate transparently. It is well known that in March we have our AGMs. It is not a matter of total ignorance.” [This was an utterly disingenuous remark. In 2015 and 2017 the AGM was in January. It was going to be in January in 2018, but was postponed to March. It was therefore unclear whether in 2019 the company would have an AGM at all before the EGM to decide on the takeover, or revert to holding the AGM in January, or hold it in March. As the last one was in March, there was no legal reason why it should not have been postponed as late as June 2019. The date was entirely unpredictable.] He went on: “With regard to allegations of racism, I cannot comment. What I do know is that the UK has appealed repeatedly to South Africa to tighten up passports. It is well known when we hold our meetings. The EGM is a difficult one. It is dependent on the legal process in South Africa and unfortunately AMCU appealed the decision of the Competition Tribunal to allow the transaction to proceed, and the date for the appeal set as 2 April. There is a sizeable delay to that transaction. We cannot dictate the timing of report from the appeal.”
36. Nima asked again, “Will you commit to more than three weeks’ notice for the EGM?” Brian Beamish replied, “No. We will do our best to give the maximum notice but cannot commit to more than three weeks.”
Rights issues and delisting
37. Another long-term shareholder asked whether there would be another rights issue and whether Lonmin would be delisted from London.
38. Brian Beamish replied that the board believed that the transaction with Sibanye Stillwater offered a comprehensive solution to the issues facing Lonmin. They had no expectation of a rights issue. The transaction would give the company the money it needs to diversify to withstand the current difficult conditions, which is why the board recommends it. It would take place according to the Scheme of Arrangement. All Lonmin shares would flow to Sibanye Stillwater and Lonmin would then be delisted.
Demands of the community and workers at Marikana
39. Markus Dufner, of German Ethical Shareholders, asked about the company’s supply chain relationship with its major customer, German company BASF. He said that BASF was not doing enough to pressure Lonmin to publish its audits. When would Lonmin publish its audits? “Either you or BASF can decide to publish the audits. When will you do so?”
40. He then said: “You might remember that one year ago, South African citizens Bishop Johannes Seoka and Andries Nkome, the lawyer for the wounded and arrested of the Marikana massacre, attended the Lonmin AGM. This year they couldn´t get a visa to visit the UK on time, so now I will bring forward their demands and questions to the Lonmin management.
41. “My name is Markus Dufner, I work for the Association of Ethical Shareholder Germany which is part of the international network Plough Back the Fruits.
42. “Mr. Beamish, Mr. Magara: Please explain to the shareholders of Lonmin how justice could be done to the widows of the miners, the workers who survived the Marikana massacre of 16 August 2012 and the community of Marikana.
43. “Compensation should be fully implemented in relation to the widows! Five and a half years after the massacre the issue of compensation for the widows still is not finalized. This is very painful for these women and their families. Mr Beamish, Mr Magara, what did the Lonmin management do to accelerate this never-ending process? In December 2018, 100 activists started a trek from Marikana, in the North West province of South Africa, to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, demanding compensation for the widows of the 34 killed mineworkers. They handed over a list to President Cyril Ramaphosa in which they demanded the finalisation of the compensation to widows of the Marikana massacre.
44. “Mr Beamish, Mr Magara, can you confirm, that Mr Ramaphosa still owns 8 percent of the shares of Lonmin? Perhaps he could personally help the widows.
45. “Furthermore, 250 people who were shot and arrested during the Marikana massacre in 2012 are angered by the department of justice’s failure to make payments to them for their losses. They have been in discussion with the state for a long time. It is understood that the state made a settlement offer, which the wounded and arrested miners accepted on August 29 last year. Lawyer Andries Nkome said he has been in communication with the state attorney’s office. ‘It looks like the department of justice has not instructed the South African Police Service to make payments to the wounded and arrested and we don’t know the reason why. To date they have not given us one.’
46. “Nkome added that his clients say they only receive information on the payments through the media. ‘These people have not had direct correspondence [from the department of justice] as to where their payments are and have been hearing about it in the media and this is how justice has continued to treat them,’ Nkome said. ‘The miners keep calling us and asking if we are sure that we have not received the payments. They clearly do not believe us when we say there has been no payment.’ Do have any secure information if the payments have finally been issued?
47. “A memorial monument should be erected! Bishop Seoka demands, that ‘as a gesture of goodwill Lonmin must make a significant contribution for a memorial monument that will provide for the healing of memories and help with the reconciliation in Marikana.’ Mr. Beamish, Mr. Magara, is the Lonmin management ready to make a contribution? What would you consider as ‘significant’? To get it clear: Bishop Seoka and the Marikana people do not want a museum of mining – as you seemed to understand last year!
48. “Members of AMCU demand that such a monument has to be erected at the Koppie (AMCU demand #4). The Koppie is the site in Marikana where 34 Lonmin miners were shot and killed by the South African police on 16 August 2012. Do you agree that the Koppie would be the appropriate site for a monument? AMCU further demands the ‘preservation of the Koppie; this includes fencing and protection of the sacred land. Kgosi ya Bapo is prepared to relinquish the land to the members of AMCU. The State must engage AMCU to assist in this project.’ (AMCU demand #5)”
49. Brian Beamish replied that the audits had been undertaken by BASF. “They are their audits not ours. We have fully dealt with all the issues they found to be unacceptable and have responded to all of their requests, and I see no reason why we should or can make the audits public as they are not our property.”
50. Regarding the widows, he said: “We as Lonmin, when the unfortunate events unfolded in 2012, we made sure that all statutory payments were made to the families as quickly as possible and offered employment to a family member so money would continue to flow into the family and mostly it was the widows who took up the employment. We then set up a trust to provide education for children in all of the affected families, 141 people. The company did what the company could do to ameliorate the horrible effects though nothing makes up for the loss of a life. Regarding what the government has done, we cannot help you as they do not consult with us about any payments they make and we do not know. Regarding instructing SABS services not to pay, I know nothing about that whatsoever.
51. “Regarding the memorial, on the 5th anniversary of shooting we put a lot of effort and time into preparing a proposed memorial. We did the best we could to apply our minds and included all stakeholders and put it to interested parties but we have made no progress. We do want a memorial and we will fund it and it should be at koppie but the holdup is with AMCU. We have asked AMCU to help us but it is they who are holding it up.
52. “Regarding Cyril Ramaphosa, he is not a shareholder in Lonmin at all.”
Some Shareholders Do Not Want to Hear About Massacres But Want to Get On With The Meeting’s Business!
53. Another long-term shareholder said, “My sister worked for Lonrho for 42 years. This meeting has been disrupted for the past few years. Can we get on with the resolutions of this meeting? People can speak to directors after the meeting.” There was loud agreement from several shareholders, and some applause.
54. Daniel Selwyn said, “You need to hear what we have to say as well. You are complicit.” Several shareholders clearly did not wish to hear about the company’s social and environmental impacts and responded with abuse. Brian Beamish said, “Everyone has been very tolerant so far. Let us keep it that way.”
Publicising Directors’ Shareholdings
55. Another shareholder asked that directors should publicise how many shares they own in the company. Brian Beamish pointed out that this was on page 97 of the annual report.
Lonmin’s Relationship With BASF, and Worker Contracts
56. Maren Grimm, speaking on behalf of German Ethical Shareholders, said: “Regarding salaries, direct and indirect employment, subcontractors earn only a quarter of the amount you summed up, so please give us numbers of directly employed and subcontracted workers.” She then asked about Lonmin’s business relationship with BASF. “Will it be taken over by Sibanye Stillwater? Has there been consultations between BASF and Sibanye Stillwater on how to proceed with this relationship? What is the total amount of platinum and other products sold to BASF? And can you also name the other products and the respective amounts sold? What is the total percentage of production sold to BASF? To which subsidiary company of the BASF enterprise exactly are you selling the metals?” She then offered the Chairman a copy of a recently published English language book, Business as usual after Marikana, about Lonmin’s business relationship with BASF, pointing out that the German edition had already been very well publicised.
57. Brian Beamish replied that there are over 30,000 workers in total. “Just over 23,000 are employed staff and just over 7,000 are contractors of various types some providing specific services like cleaning or security, and then there are contract miners who as we try to extend the life of the shaft we often have contractors working in those environments. When we employ contractors we only use reputable companies who do not exploit their workers.”
58. Maren asked, “Is this a stable amount or just what is current as it is a volatile situation?”
59. Brian Beamish said that this was a snapshot of the year-end figures. He said that as the company had reduced the work force, both employees and contractors, the ratio had stayed broadly similar. The relationship with permanent employees is more stable than that with contractors.
60. Maren asked whether teams working underground were a mix of employees and subcontractors.
61. Brian Beamish replied: “We have operations underground with specialised operations where we might employ contractor to do that particular work or there might be a skill shortage which can be addressed with a contractor for support or drilling or whatever. Generally our mining teams underground are our own employees but on occasion we use contractors.”
62. He moved on to the issue of sales figures. He said that the number of ounces or percentages sold to particular customers were commercial issues which the company does not divulge. As for awareness of the transaction with Sibanye Stillwater, Lonmin had spoken to all its customers. Contracts would all go with the business to Sibanye Stillwater if transaction were approved.
63. Tilman Massa, of German Ethical Shareholders, asked about environmental impacts. He said: “Social movements and communities affected by your mining operations demand that you take responsibility for pollution and ecological devastation at Marikana. You should ensure that people in the communities around the mine have sufficient and clean water, proper sanitation and electricity.
64. “You reported seven environmental incidents for 2018. One severe incident took place on 26 February 2018, when approximately 4,000 tons of slurry from a bulk tailings treatment pipeline spilled into the environment, also entering a river at Marikana. You submitted a rehabilitation plan that should conclude this year. Are you on track with your rehabilitation obligations and how will you make sure those incidents will not happen again?
65. “You set a new reduction target to reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 Green House Gas emissions by 4% by 2022 from a 2017 baseline. But your scope 1 and 2 GHG emission increased by almost 2,000 tons last year. How will you make sure you will reach even your own, very modest goals to fight climate change?
66. “Can you guarantee you will meet new South African emissions standards on hazardous waste streams such as liquid acid and calcium sulphite required by 1 April 2020? In your current sustainability report you say you are “on track” to meet the new requirements, but calcium sulphite emissions even increased from 2017 to 2018.
67. “BASF as a world-leading chemical enterprise has a large expertise in filter technologies and emission reduction. They used heavily to pollute the river Rhine in Germany for decades. Wouldn’t it be obvious to collaborate with your long term business partner in that regard?”
68. Brian Beamish replied: “We care a lot about the environment. Zero harm philosophy is not just about safety but about the environment. The world isn’t perfect. We did have an incident last year. We were commissioning a new tailings facility, pumping inert slurry across the property along an extended distance. The pipeline sprang a leak at one of the joints. Slurry escaped into the environment and we notified the authorities and came up with a clean-up plan which will be implemented this year. It will all be taken care of as expected. Everything will be made good.
69. “Regarding greenhouse gases and energy in general, the energy we use is linked mostly to production and we try to minimise the energy we need for a certain amount of production. We have targets, which we publish. Regarding greenhouse gases, most are produced off the property, through the electricity which we purchase. So we only control a small percentage of our greenhouse gas emissions so our challenge is to use less energy. Increased production last year meant we were not running smoothly during the year but we set targets and do what we can to stay within them, as we do also with waste. Waste that we do not handle on site we have handled professionally by experts off site. We are a responsible operator. We do not contaminate the environment at all if we can help it.”
70. Finally, a shareholder asked about accountants KPMG acting as auditor again. Brian Beamish said that they had audited Lonmin’s accounts for around 42 years but this will the last cycle and they will not be invited to bid again.
71. Polls were then conducted on the items of business. All the company’s proposals were accepted with huge majorities except for the Remuneration Report, which was rejected, and the Chairman noted that this was because of the Sibanye Stillwater deal being held up. There would be further consultation with major shareholders.
72. The Chairman was clearly unsettled by the points that Daniel made: immediately the meeting ended, he approached Daniel and opened a conversation with him.
73. He was eager to address pay differentials. He said the system might be wrong but it’s a reality: there are different markets for leadership and for workers. Marikana is a social project – shareholders are not making any money but are still paying for housing and the education of the community. Daniel asked how much he makes personally out of this social project. Brian Beamish replied that as a non-Executive Director without bonuses he makes a flat rate of £55,000 a year, which he and Daniel calculated as over four times as much as most of his employees.
74. Regarding worker fatalities at Sibanye Stillwater, Brian Beamish said that Lonmin had one of the best records in South Africa and was now advising Sibanye Stillwater on how to improve. Daniel asked, “Can you not see our concern that a company responsible for the massacre of its workers is giving lessons on worker safety? ” Brian Beamish replied that Marikana would tarnish Lonmin’s reputation forever, but it could have happened at any mining company in South Africa. He was working at Anglo Platinum at the time, and it could have happened there, he said. Since joining Lonmin he has found it to be a very caring and respectful company.