Lonmin Recovery Experts Exit as Platinum Producer Names COO

Two Lonmin Plc executives who led a recovery in operations from a strike in 2012 have resigned, less than two months after the platinum producer began restoring output at South African mines disrupted by a walkout.

Mark Munroe, executive vice president for mining, and Executive Vice-President for Processing Natascha Viljoen have left “to pursue new opportunities,” the world’s third-biggest platinum producer said in an e-mailed statement today. Lonmin appointed Johan Viljoen as chief operating officer, a post that replaces the two vacant roles, it said.

Munroe and Natascha Viljoen were the most senior executives in charge of operations as Lonmin ramped-up to full production ahead of schedule after a six-week 2012 strike that included the deaths of 34 workers in a clash with police at its Marikana mines. Financial Director Simon Scott acted as chief executive officer at the time.

“The people who are leaving are quite highly regarded,” Michael Kavanagh, a metals and mining analyst at Noah Capital Markets in Cape Town, said by phone. “Natascha was particularly strong on the processing division. That is easy money and adds to the bottom line if you can get the recoveries up.”

Lonmin fell 2.1 percent to 222.3 pence by the close in London, the lowest in more than three weeks.

The company has said it aims to achieve full production capacity by the final quarter of this year, following a five-month pay-strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union that ended June 24.

‘Useful Insights’

Johan Viljoen spent 37 years in “operational management and leadership roles” at Gold Fields Ltd., Anglo American Plc and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., Lonmin said in its statement. “Johan has useful insights in the changing mining industry labor landscape,” CEO Ben Magara said in the statement.

The appointment of a new CEO often precedes the departure of other senior officials, Kavanagh said. “Ben Magara is a relatively new CEO. It does happen from time to time” that other executives leave, Kavanagh said.

Magara, a former executive for engineering and projects at Anglo American Platinum Ltd., moved to Lonmin last year, 10 months after Chris Griffith was appointed CEO at Amplats, as the largest producer is known.

Paul Dunne, a former executive for operations at Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., left the second-biggest producer last year after Terence Goodlace was named CEO in 2012. Dunne has since replaced Glyn Lewis as CEO of Northam Platinum Ltd.

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