The Bermuda Connection: Profit shifting, inequality and unaffordability at Lonmin 1999 - 2012

Lonmin was the corporation responsible for urging the South African state to carry out the massacre of 34 striking mineworkers on 16 August 2012. Lonmin refused to negotiate with its workers for a living wage, and instead called on the police who shot them down in cold blood. The company was set up mine platinum during apartheid, as part of the notorious Lonrho multinational empire.

Forslund’s report the Bermuda Connection shows how Lonmin executives hid its profits to avoid paying a decent wage as well as taxes. It is the most detailed and critical economic analysis of the corporation that killed its workers.

In 2019 Sibanye-Stillwater purchased Lonmin for the rock bottom price of R4.3bn (US $290 million). Sibanye originally presented the rationale was to get access to Lonmin’s in-house smelter operation. It is clear that Lonmin’s mining assets were worth much more than either company let on at the time. The real reason that Lonmin’s managers sold is that they wanted to close down the company as the entity responsible for the Marikana Massacre.

Forslund argued against the takeover, and the threatened job cuts. He rightly pointed out that once the associated minerals are taken into account, the company would have increasing revenues and hence would be viable as a stand-alone operation.

In the event, Sibanye has indeed expanded production in the Lonmin mine, especially the K4 shaft that it expects to be taking significant returns from for the next 50 years. Within just 3 years Sibanye has drawn R34.7bn (US $2.3bn) profits from Lonmin production, eight times its purchase price.

This is an opportunity to gain real insight into the nefarious workings of two mining corporations who have colluded in a narrative that puts profits before the lives of African workers and communities around the mine.”