Black miners long have faced low salaries and poor living conditions in shantytowns often beset by alcoholism, drug abuse and prostitution. Apartheid kept black African workers from more lucrative jobs offered to whites. Though the nation became truly democratic in the 1990s, the salaries of black miners remain low.
Mining drives the economy of South Africa, which remains one of the world's dominant producers of platinum, gold and chromium. Lonmin is the world's third largest platinum producer and its mine at Marikana produces 96 percent of all its platinum. The violence has shaken the precious metals market, as platinum futures ended up $39, or 2.8 percent, at $1,435.20 an ounce in trading Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Meanwhile, Lonmin stock plunged 6.76 percent Thursday on the London Stock Exchange. The company's stock value has dropped more than 12 percent since the start of the unrest.
Lonmin also announced Thursday its CEO, Ian Farmer, had been diagnosed with a serious illness and had been hospitalized. It did not disclose Farmer's illness.
Associated Press writer Emoke Bebiak in Johannesburg contributed to this report.
Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP .
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