CAO Cases

Arne Hoel, The World Bank

Sub-Saharan Africa

South Africa / Lonmin-02/Marikana

Local community members
Date Filed
June 16, 2015
Air and water pollution, negative impact on living conditions
Case Status
Open - Compliance



At the time of the complaint, IFC had an active Category A project with Lonmin Plc, a large platinum producer, for a multi-year expansion program of the company’s operations. The project consisted of the development, expansion, and mechanization of Lonmin’s South African mines; and the development of a comprehensive, large-scale community and local economic development program (LEDP). IFC’s investment in the project entailed a standby 10 year A loan of $100 million and an equity investment of $50 million. IFC completed its involvement in the project in January 2016.


In June 2015, CAO received a complaint from a local community organization and community members regarding Lonmin’s Marikana mine in North West Province, South Africa.  The complaint cites concerns about contamination of air and groundwater, and negative impacts on the living conditions of nearby communities, including on housing, water and sanitation, infrastructure and employment. The complaint also cites concerns about the project’s social and environmental commitments, IFC’s social and environmental due diligence, and non-compliance with national law.


CAO Action

CAO found the complaint eligible for further assessment in June 2015 and an assessment trip was conducted in August 2015. During the assessment, the parties agreed to engage in a CAO convened dispute resolution process. CAO subsequently held a series of bilateral meetings with the parties during 2016 to provide capacity building and information, and assist them in drafting and adopting a set of principles to govern the dispute resolution process. CAO also convened several joint meetings as part of the mediation.  However, in December 2016 the complainants decided to withdraw from the process citing lack of progress, and this decision was confirmed in March 2017.  In accordance with CAO’s Operational Guidelines, the case is being transferred to CAO's compliance function for appraisal.


In December 2017, CAO concluded its compliance appraisal. Considering the accounts of adverse impact provided by the complainants and the questions CAO identified in relation to IFC’s review and supervision of the project’s related aspects, CAO concludes that the complaint meets CAO's criteria for investigation.


Terms of reference for this compliance investigation were disclosed on January 16, 2018. A Xhosa version is available. All documents relating to this case are available under "View Documents" below.



A compliance investigation has been initiated. 



Status as of February 23, 2018

Project information

Project Name & Number
Lonmin 24803
Oil, Gas, Mining, & Chemicals
Lonmin plc
Sub-Saharan Africa
South Africa
Environmental Category
10 year A loan of $100 million, $50 million equity

Case Tracker


  • Eligible: Completed
  • Assessment Period: Completed
  • Facilitating Settlement: Transferred


  • Under Appraisal: Completed
  • Under Audit: In Process