Fresh challenges for Lonmin’s Magara

JOHANNESBURG — Financial services group Cadiz Mining and Resources division head Peter Major has told Mining Weekly Online that the market’s response to the appointment of Ben Magara as Lonmin’s new CEO was “disappointing”.

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The platinum miner’s shares were trading at £2,87 in London, down 1,24% on the March 28 close of £2,90
Lonmin’s shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange were trading at R40,25 down 2,26% on the March 28 close of R41,18.

“I am a little disappointed as to how the share price reacted to Magara’s appointment, particularly with the stable platinum price. I expected it to increase by around 2% because it is so bombed out right now,” Major commented.

Mining Weekly Online reported earlier on Tuesday that the former Anglo Coal South Africa CEO would occupy the top leadership role at Lonmin with effect from July 1, at which time acting CEO Simon Scott would resume his role as CFO.

Scott was appointed to head up the embattled miner in August after the then CEO Ian Farmer became ill in the midst of an international media storm over the deaths of 34 striking miners at its Marikana mine, in the North West province.

While Major believed Magara’s appointment was “a step in the right direction” he said that Magara’s areas of expertise — primarily around capital and engineering — meant that he may not have the hardline production-focused single-mindedness required to accelerate the company’s recovery.

“He doesn’t have a strong production perspective, which is what Lonmin needs at the moment — they need someone who can break rock and get the ore out of the ground,” he said.

He did, however, consider that Magara’s years of employment at large mining companies, most notably the Anglo American Group, meant that he would find the smaller Lonmin easier to manage.

In addition, Major said Lonmin’s decision to appoint a mining engineer rather than a financial expert was well considered.
“At the moment, Lonmin needs someone who understands what can and can’t be done, what is possible and what is not. Mining is such a complex business and it is important to have someone who understands what is going on at the rock face,” he commented.

He added that, on paper, Magara “ticked a lot of boxes” and that, while Lonmin was struggling to recover from continuing labour and production challenges, the appointment presented good prospects for the Zimbabwean national.

“It is not as though they are handing him a poisoned chalice; this is a very good opportunity,” he emphasised.

Magara currently occupied the position of executive head of engineering and capital projects at Anglo American Platinum and had occupied several positions within the Anglo American Group.

He boasted 22 years experience in the mining industry had been a director of Anglo American South Africa since 2006, and was a nonexecutive director of phosphates firm Foskor.

Magara completed a degree in Mining Engineering from the University of Zimbabwe, where he was, in 1990, named the Best Final Year Mining Engineering student.

About Ben Magara

Full Name: Bennetor Magara

Position: Executive head: Engineering and projects at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) since 2009

Main Activity of the Company: Mining platinum

Date and Place of Birth: June 24, 1967, Bikita, Zimbabwe

Education: BSc (Eng) (Hons), University of Zimbabwe, 1990; ADP,
London Business School; and AMP, Gordon Institute of Business Science

First Job: Underground miner

Size Of First Pay Packet: Z$1 164 a month

Size of Capital Portfolio: R7 billion to R10 billion a year

Number of People under Your Leadership: About 5 000

Management Style: Inspire and empower people to work to a purpose and have fun

Personal Best Achievement: My wife and two sons

Best Business Achievement: Being CEO of Anglo Coal South Africa at 38 years of age

Person Who Has Had the Biggest Influence on Your Career: My mother

Person You Would Most Like to Meet: Richard Branson – again

Businessperson Who Has Impressed You Most: Richard Branson

Philosophy of Life: Making a positive difference and having fun in all that I do

Biggest Ever Opportunity: Turning around the New Denmark colliery’s safety, production, costs and culture

Biggest Ever Disappointment: The death of a fellow miner

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  1. Zanu would call people like Peter Major detractors and racists but I will tell you something Ben; you are there on merit. You are also in the spot light and people will continue to exprs their views good and bad. Take it on the chin and proceed. Its a pity that another nation will benefit from you work but that is the global village I guess. You should take such veiled criticism on the chin, the good and the bad and make yourself better. I am convinced you will make it because you were raised properly, went to best University as far as I am concerned and gained your experience at the right company. Well done because the sky is the limit after this.

    1. I doubt that Ben much cares for what you think Zanu thinks about him. The man is out there doing what he seems to enjoy. What “in thy quips and thy quiditties” has that to do with Zanu? Simply wish him all the best, not least in the face of comments from Major that he might have cost Lonmin on the bourse. Now I hope he turns it round to add 10 times the drop in the opposite direction!

      1. @Rob Jackson

        I think you have misunderstand Zhira above because my understanding of what he is saying is that in Zimbabwe (Zanu PF and state media) we blame everything bad on everyone else but ourselves and therefore Ben needs to get used to comments like Peter Major, and carry on with the work that got into that position. Light hearted as that comment was it is firstly negative on Zanu and secondly encouraging on Ben to forget the blame game and being defensive and concentrate on doing good in his new job. His first sentence quite tickled me.

  2. I’m happy to see Zimbabweans excel abroad, the likes of Ben Magara at Lonmin, Dabengwa at MTN etc. This is because the corporates abroad have seen their capabilities and thus are taping from them. Locally there may not be corporates with portfolios as big as they are currently managing so there is no point in asking them to come back home (and run tuckshops). What baffles me is the government aided by local senseless lobby groups like IBDO etc who always make noise when foreigners are appointed or seconded to international corporates with branches or operations in Zimbabwe. You always hear them say “we have over qualified engineers here etc”. A word of advice is that talent is the best import that a country should aim to attract so that locals can immensely benfit from it. Immigrants and foreigners should be encouraged to come and set-up locally because they help create employment and encourage growth. In the USA more than half of the technology companies in the Silicon Valley were started by foreigners who have been given the opportunities. The Americans are lobbying their leaders to relax immigration rules to certain classes of people (intellects) so that they continue to promote economic growth. No wonder their economies are world class and their appettite for intellects is voracious. Tega takoniwa kuvaka Zimbabwe – yowondomoka!!!

  3. Phunyukabemphethe

    Why are you Ben leaving out our experience at Whange Colliery, you have become a Mzansi and you now don’t give a damn about what happens north of river Ngulukudela?

    Typical of Zims!!

    1. Its not him who left it out. On his write up in The Business Day of Tuesday, he mentioned how he went to UZ for his degree and how he later went to Hwange Colliery up to 1994 after which went down south and started at Standerton. Why do you always look for negative stuff?

    2. Is he a gukurahundi too! Is it because he is Shona that this silly newspaper is writing a negative article on him – what is wrong with you people? Going out of the way to find a negative article – have you ever seen a negative article from Herald on MTN CEO but just praises on how he makes us proud?!

  4. If you tribalize Zimbabwe it is the minority who lose – we thought we are over that!

  5. thumps up Ben

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