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Lonmin ups security

The platinum producer was responding to violence and labour strife.

Lonmin. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Platinum producer Lonmin has increased security staff at its South African mines in response to violence and labour strife, a senior executive said on Thursday.

Lonmin's mines were the heart of last year's violence in South Africa's platinum belt, which saw 34 miners shot dead by police in a single day in the worst security incident since the end of apartheid.

Tensions are rising again, with a shop steward shot dead this week and a new strike threat by the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

"There is an increased police presence in the area and Lonmin itself has significantly increased the amount of security personnel we have on the property," Mark Munroe, executive vice president for mining, told reporters on a conference call.

The company said it would not tolerate further violence, and called for more police on the ground and the removal of weapons in the areas around its operations.

"We cannot stand by as our employees and community members are murdered," Natascha Viljoen, executive vice president for sustainability, added on the call.

More than 50 people died last year in wildcat strikes and violence relating to a bloody turf war between the once dominant National Union of Mineworkers and rival AMCU.

AMCU has threatened to down tools at Lonmin next week if it is not recognised as the majority union.

The company said it had not yet received an ultimatum from the union regarding a potential walkout, which it said would be deemed "an illegal strike."