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South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has given details of the commission that will investigate the circumstances around the deaths of 44 people at Lonmin Marikana platinum mine.

The actions of mining company Lonmin, the government, police, unions, and individuals will all be examined.

Thousands of people, some crying uncontrollably, earlier attended a memorial service for the dead.

Thirty-four were shot dead by police during a strike over pay last week.

Previously 10 people, two of them police officers, had died in violent clashes.

Reports of worker action at two other platinum mines have added to industry fears that the unrest is spreading.

The price of platinum has jumped amid concerns about disruptions to supply.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has given details of the commission that will investigate the circumstances around the deaths of 44 people at Lonmin Marikana platinum mine

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has given details of the commission that will investigate the circumstances around the deaths of 44 people at Lonmin Marikana platinum mine

The commission “has been directed to investigate matters of public, national and international concern rising out of the events in Marikana which led to the deaths of approximately 44 people, the injury of more than 70 persons and the arrest of more than 250 people,” Jacob Zuma said in a televised statement.

He said the commission would have the power to enter premises, compel witnesses to appear and demand documents. Not only security issues but issues surrounding labor policies and working conditions would also come under its remit, he added.

Retired appeals court judge Ian Farlam will head the three-person commission, along with two other senior advocates who are also former judges, reported Agence France-Presse.

The commission should complete its work within four months, Jacob Zuma said, and submit a final report a month afterwards.

Rob Davies, South Africa’s trade and industry minister, said the actions of the police would be investigated with “considerable depth”.

“The inquiry will have to establish the chain of responsibility, who did what wrong and hold anybody who did wrong to account. I think that is a correct process in a democratic society – that if actions are taken against people they have to be on the basis of evidence,” said Rob Davies.

The deadly clashes have thrown South Africa into a frenzy of outrage and grief, say correspondents.

Many relatives have asked how the police – faced with strikers wielding machetes and clubs – could have killed so many in response.

There has been a strong police presence around the mine since the dispute erupted but they were noticeably absent for Thursday’s memorial service, correspondents said, probably due to fears that violence could erupt.

But speaker after speaker also turned their ire on the government, they said, amid a perception that some politicians have been trying to make political capital out of the affair – and a suspicion among some that government has been complicit in the killings.

Church leaders from a range of denominations, politicians and thousands of mourners attended the emotional, hymn-filled service. Hundreds crammed inside the memorial marquee and hundreds more outside.

At one point the service was disrupted by green-clad members of the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), who walked to the front of the marquee brandishing sticks and machetes, but the service soon resumed.

With his government under fire for allegedly putting corporate interests above worker rights, Jacob Zuma has expressed sympathy with some of the grievances expressed by the Marikana miners.

He has argued the mining sector can afford to increase wages and threatened companies that fail to raise workers’ housing standards with the cancellation of their mining licences.

Visiting the mine on Wednesday, Jacob Zuma told workers he “felt their pain” and promised a speedy and thorough investigation of the shootings.

But fears expressed by analysts and industry executives that unrest could spread to other parts of the mining sector were given weight with reports of worker action at two other platinum mines.

The world’s top platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum, said it had received a broad list of demands from its South African workers.

Meanwhile, some 500 workers at a shaft in the nearby Royal Bafokeng Platinum Mine downed tools on Wednesday, demanding a pay increase and reportedly blocking fellow miners from going to work.

Religious leaders have brokered talks between the Lonmin management and workers in an attempt to break the deadlock in the dispute over pay.

No unions were involved because “they already failed us”, said Zolisa Bodlain, one of five workers who met managers – but the workers vow that they will not back down even without the unions’ help.

Part of the background to this complex dispute is the rivalry between two unions – the long-established National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the newly-formed AMCU, which is more militant.

Both will come under scrutiny under the terms of the commission of inquiry set out by the president.

 

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A 12.76-carat pink diamond, found by an Australian mining company, is believed to be the largest rough pink diamond found in the country.

The rare diamond was found at Rio Tinto’s Argyle diamond mine in Western Australia’s East Kimberly region.

Estimated to be worth millions, it has been named the Argyle Pink Jubilee, and is being cut and polished in Perth.

The diamond will be sold later this year after being shown around the world, including in New York and Hong Kong.

The process of polishing and cutting, which began in Perth on Tuesday, is expected to take about 10 days. The diamond will then be graded by a team of international experts.

More than 90% of the pink diamonds in the world come from the Argyle mine, a Rio Tinto statement said.

The rare pink diamond was found at Rio Tinto's Argyle diamond mine in Western Australia's East Kimberly region

The rare pink diamond was found at Rio Tinto's Argyle diamond mine in Western Australia's East Kimberly region

The Argyle Pink Jubilee is a light pink diamond, the company said. It is similar in color to The Williamson Pink – the diamond found in Tanzania that Queen Elizabeth II received as a wedding gift and which was subsequently set into a brooch for her coronation.

A Rio Tinto spokesperson said that a diamond of this calibre was ”unprecedented”.

”It has taken 26 years of Argyle production to unearth this stone and we may never see one like this again,” said Argyle Pink Diamonds Manager Josephine Johnson.

In 2010, a rare 24.78-carat “fancy intense pink” diamond was sold for a record-breaking $46 million, the highest price ever paid for a jewel, to a well-known British dealer at an auction in Geneva.

That diamond had been in a private collection for 60 years.

 

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Mining company Xstrata has formally announced plans to merge with the world’s biggest commodity trader, Glencore.

The deal would value the combined new business at $90 billion, of which Xstrata would comprise $39 billion.

The announcement came as Xstrata revealed a 20% increase in profits for 2011, to $5.9 billion.

But two major Xstrata shareholders say they will vote against the deal as it undervalues their shares.

The deal was described by the two firms as a “merger of equals” with the new company to be named “Glencore Xstrata International PLC”.

Glencore chief executive Ivan Glasenberg said the merger would create “a new powerhouse in the global commodities business”

Xstrata chief executive Mick Davis will head up the new firm, with Ivan Glasenberg becoming deputy chief executive. The Xstrata finance head will likewise take the senior role in the combined firm.

Mining company Xstrata has formally announced plans to merge with the world's biggest commodity trader, Glencore

Mining company Xstrata has formally announced plans to merge with the world's biggest commodity trader, Glencore

The valuation of Xstrata translates to a share price of 1,290 p – compared with the 1,100 p at which shares were trading before news of the deal emerged last week.

Xstrata’s shareholders – other than Glencore – would have a 45% stake in the new company.

But Standard Life Investments, and Schroders, which own 3.6% of Xstrata said the deal undervalued the firm and they would vote against the merger.

News of the unease saw Xstrata shares fall 3% in morning trading.

“This is a fabulous deal for Glencore, it’s probably a great deal for the Xstrata management, but it’s a poor deal for Xstrata’s majority shareholders,” said Schroders’ Richard Buxton.

Xstrata’s 2011 financial results were well above market expectations, according to stock brokers Charles Stanley.

“Given this performance, shareholders of Xstrata are entitled to ask if this is the best deal available, as Glencore paper has been disappointing,” the brokerage said.

Shareholders will be able to vote on the merger in April, after Glencore’s full year results have been announced.

Glencore only floated on the stock exchange in May last year in a record share offering in London.

The traditionally secretive Swiss firm buys and sells metals, crops and fuels in the financial market and invests in mining companies, but – unlike Xstrata – Glencore does not typically itself extract the stuff out of the ground.

For its part, Xstrata owns vast reserves of coal, copper and nickel across Africa, South America and central Asia.

About half of its revenues came from its copper business in 2011, while coal contributed the most to its profit growth.