Lonmin plc owns and operates a mine at Marikana, in the South African platinum belt. In 2007, the World Bank’s private lending arm, the International Finance Corporation (the IFC), invested $100m in the mine and provided a further lending facility of up to $50m for further investment. Lonmin committed to using a substantial proportion of the funds for local community development and promised to deploy the funds to ensure that the local community was left “comfortably middle class”. Today, the local community remains one of the most deprived in South Africa, with no running water, no sanitation, no housing, no electricity and no roads.
In 2015, a local women’s group known as the Women of Marikana brought a complaint to the IFC’s accountability mechanism, the CAO. Having found the complaint to be valid, the CAO has recently commenced a process to mediate a solution between the affected community and the mine. Toby Fisher is advising the Women of Marikana through the mediation process.