Lonmin shortlisted in international Public Eye Awards - groundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa; The Bench Marks Foundation

 Pietermaritzburg & Johannesburg, South Africa, 04 January 2013 – The nexus between corporate power and the political elite, and what this means for people and the environment is being exposed in the run up to the World Economic Forum which will take place in Davos, Switzerland between 23 to 27 January 2013. Here the world's elite 1% gather to discuss ways to increase deregulation of global markets and enable transnational corporations to gain further strongholds over the natural resources, livelihoods and labour of marginalized people across the world.

 groundWork [1] and The Bench Marks Foundation's [2] submission of platinum mining corporation, Lonmin Plc, to the Public Eye Award's [3] for the People's Award, was recently shortlisted with G4S, Repower, Alstom, Shell, Coal India and Goldman Sachs. This submission was based on the human rights violations and environmental destruction that the corporation has carried out since the establishment of its mine in the Marikana region in the North West province of South Africa.

In 2011 and 2012, miners and the community at the mine showed their anger at the corporation by partaking in various protests. The Bench Marks Foundation, in their 2012 report Policy Gap 6: Communities in the platinum minefields [4] highlights the following main issues as areas of concern: Worker health and safety; lack of local employment and mass firing of employees; failure of corporate social responsibility projects; and the impact of mining on agriculture and social stability in the area.

 John Capel, Director of The Bench Marks Foundation: "Mines such as Lonmin need to stop obsessing with cutting costs which is usually at the expense of the environment, labour and communities. They continue to find ways to shift their social responsibilities. Often this turns into protests such as those we experienced in Marikana."

 From 04 to 23 January 2013, the public are given the opportunity through the People's Award to make their voices heard about which of the seven corporations they think have had the worst reputation in 2012 [5]. Like so many mines across South Africa and the globe, Lonmin has continued to keep a horrendous track record where profits have been put before people's ability to meet a basic standard of living. The tragedy that occurred at the mine on 16 August 2012, where a total of 44 miners were massacred and 78 others were injured during a protest for increased wages, illustrates this oppressive nature of the mining corporation.

 Bobby Peek, Director of groundWork: "The events at Marikana must be seen in the context of a failed democracy and crumbling state, whose interest is tied up in protecting the wealth of the elite, rather than supporting the poor and responding to their call for the ANC's promised 'better life for all'."


[1] groundWork is an environmental justice organisation working with community people from around South Africa, and increasingly Southern Africa, on environmental justice and human rights issues focusing on Air Quality, Climate and Energy Justice, Waste and Environmental Health. groundWork is the South African member of Friends of the Earth International www.groundwork.org.za

 [2] The Bench Marks Foundation is a non-profit, faith-based organisation owned by the churches in South Africa. It works in the area of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and monitors corporate performance against an international measuring instrument, the Principles of Global Corporate Responsibility. The Bench Marks Foundation is part of an international faith-based coalition that also has partners in Australia, Hong Kong, the USA, Columbia and the United Kingdom www.bench-marks.org.za

 [3] The Public Eye Awards mark a critical counterpoint to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. Organised since 2000 by Berne Declaration and Friends of the Earth (in 2009 replaced by Greepeace), Public Eye reminds the corporate world that social and environmental misdeeds have consequences – for the affected people and territory, but also for the reputation of the offender http://www.publiceye.ch/en/

 [4] To read The Bench Marks Foundation report Policy Gap 6: Communities in the platinum minefields (2012), visit:


 [5] The public can watch the videos for each of the seven nomination corporations and place their vote for the worst corporation of 2012 at http://www.publiceye.ch/en/vote/


Bobby Peek, Director at groundWork at +27 (0) 82 464 1383 / bobby@groundwork.org.za

 David van Wyk, Lead Researcher at Bench Marks +27 (0)82 562 5061/ +27 (0)83 229 5149 or

 Megan Lewis, Media and Information Campaigner at groundWork at +27 (0) 83 450 5541 / megan@groundwork.org.za