Start main page content

CALS notes Competition Tribunal order

- Lee-Anne Bruce

Competition Tribunal places a number of conditions on the merger between Lonmin and Sibanye on existing social commitments and establishing a community forum

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) notes the Competition Tribunal’s order on the merger between Lonmin and Sibanye-Stillwater. The Tribunal has approved the merger subject to a number of conditions relating to employment, procurement and social and labour plan commitments. CALS intervened in the Tribunal hearings on behalf of Sikhala Sonke, a women’s organisation from the Marikana area, to ensure Lonmin’s social obligations to mining-affected communities are taken into account in the merger.

Lonmin is a platinum mining company, infamous for its involvement in the strike around Marikana in 2012. For several years, Lonmin has been struggling financially and has faced shutting down its mining operations unless it could find a buyer. In March this year, Lonmin announced a proposed acquisition by mining group Sibanye-Stillwater. Large mergers of this kind must be reviewed by the Competition Tribunal, which decides whether or not to approve the merger and any conditions that should be attached to an approval.

Lonmin has a history of failing to comply with these obligations (see, for example, Amnesty International’s ‘Smoke and Mirrors: Lonmin’s failure to address housing conditions at Marikana’). As such, it was important for Sikhala Sonke and other affected communities to raise concerns about the human impact of this continuous non-compliance and the need toconsider social and labour plan commitments in the merger.

In this case, the Tribunal approved the merger between Lonmin and Sibanye-Stillwater subject to a number of conditions in the public interest, including a condition specifically related to social and labour plans. The Tribunal has ordered that Sibanye honour Lonmin’s existing social and labour plan commitments and establish a Community Engagement Forum to engage nearby communities and community organisations like our clients specifically.

“Having the Tribunal recognise the importance of social obligations and declare social and labour plans a competition issue is a major victory for our clients,” says Robert Krause, researcher at CALS. “The fact that named community structures must be consulted in an official forum is essential given the mining industry’s history of selective consultation with mining-affected communities.”

Read the full order here

For more information, please contact: