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Group.png Lonmin plc   Sourcewatch WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Formation13 May 1909
HeadquartersLondon, England, UK
British mining company

Lonrho – now called Lonmin – is a mining company which was incorporated in the United Kingdom on 13 May 1909 as the London and Rhodesian Mining and Land Company Limited.[1]


Businessman Tiny Rowland was recruited as chief executive in 1962. For many years during the second half of the twentieth century it was frequently in the news, not only due to the politically sensitive part of the world in which it had mining businesses, but also – as it strove to become a conglomerate not wholly dependent on these businesses – in a number of takeover battles, most notably for the Harrods of Knightsbridge department store.[2]

In 1968, Lonrho acquired Ashanti Goldfields Corporation, a gold mining business in Ghana.[3] The former Conservative minister Duncan Sandys, a director of Ashanti, became Lonrho's chairman in 1972.[4]


Sir Angus Ogilvy, married to a member of the British royal family (Princess Alexandra), was a Lonrho director and this increased media interest in the company's affairs. Ogilvy's career ended when Lonrho was involved in a sanctions-busting scandal concerning trade with Rhodesia. Prime Minister, Edward Heath, criticised the company, describing it in the House of Commons in 1973 as "an unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism."[5]

By 1979, Lonrho employed 140,000 people worldwide.[6]


During the 1980s, Lonrho entered the British newspaper market, buying the Sunday newspaper The Observer in 1981[7] and the newly launched daily Today in 1986.[8] Today was sold to News International the following year,[9] while the Guardian Media Group bought the Observer in 1993.

Tiny Rowland was finally ejected from Lonrho in October 1993 after a boardroom tussle with director Dieter Bock.[10] He was replaced by Nick Morrell, a former chief executive of the Observer.[11]

Renamed Lonmin

Two months before Rowland's death (on 26 July 1998) the assets of Lonrho were split. Two publicly listed companies, Lonrho plc and Lonrho Africa plc were created – the former retaining all the non-African businesses and mining assets.[12] In 1999, Lonrho plc was renamed as Lonmin plc and a new era as a focused mining company began.[13]

Marikana mine

On 16 August 2012, South African police opened fire on a large crowd of men who had walked out on strike from Lonmin's platinum mine at Marikana, about 80 miles north of Johannesburg. They shot down 112 of them, killing 34.

In any country, this would have been a traumatic moment. For South Africa, it was a special kind of nightmare since it revived images of massacre by the state in the old apartheid era with the one brutal difference that this time it was predominantly black policemen with black senior officers working for black politicians who were doing the shooting.

President Jacob Zuma appointed a commission of inquiry, chaired by a retired judge, Ian Farlam, which eventually sat for a total of 293 days, hearing live evidence from miners, their bosses and the police; and uncovering video, audio and paper records of the shooting and of the seven-day strike which preceded it. At the end of March 2015, the commission delivered its report to Zuma, who so far has failed to publish its findings. Those who may find themselves accused of colluding in the police action include not only senior figures from the ruling African National Congress but also the British company which owns the Marikana mine, Lonmin.[14]


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Document:Nothing has ChangedArticle10 November 2017John WarrenThe ill-judged words of the present Prime Minister perhaps accidentally illuminate something important about the true character of the Conservative Party: “Nothing has Changed”.
Document:Tiny Rowland – portrait of the bastard as a rebelArticleAugust 1990Nick DaviesAll big entrepreneurs have the stink of unpopularity around them. Whether it is through envy or sincere distaste, Donald Trump, James Goldsmith, Rupert Murdoch, Robert Maxwell and Richard Branson have all become popular figures of hate. The one characteristic that has marked out Tiny Rowland is his lack of respect for authority.