Lonmin CEO Farmer Steps Down at Platinum Miner Amid Illness

Lonmin Plc (LMI), the world’s third- largest platinum producer, said Chief Executive Officer Ian Farmer will resign because of the illness that saw him hospitalized during a violent strike at its Marikana mine.

Simon Scott will continue in his role as acting CEO and has asked not to be considered as a candidate for the permanent position, Johannesburg-based Lonmin said today in a statement.

“Following the appointment of a new CEO, Simon will dedicate his time fully to his role as chief financial officer,” Lonmin said. It has appointed an executive search company to find a successor.

Farmer, 50, was hospitalized for a “serious illness,” Lonmin said on Aug. 16, without giving details of his condition. The same day, police fired on striking miners near the Marikana operation, killing 34 protesters in South Africa’s deadliest mine violence since the fall of apartheid in 1994.

A six-week walkout at Marikana, about 170 kilometers (106 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, resulted in the loss of an estimated 110,000 ounces of platinum production, Lonmin said in a Nov. 9 statement. Marikana is in the Rustenburg region, site of the world’s largest platinum reserves.

The strikes spread to gold, iron-ore and coal mines. Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service have lowered their ratings on South Africa since Sept. 27, citing an increase in political risk after the walkouts.

Farmer, Lonmin CEO for four years, told a mining conference in Cape Town in February that he expected a heightened risk of disruption in platinum supplies as the South African operating environment becomes “more challenging.”

Lonmin declined for a second day in London trading, losing 2.6 percent to 278 pence by the close. The FTSE 350 Mining Index fell 0.7 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Burkhardt in Johannesburg at pburkhardt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net

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