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Lonmin worker killed as tension builds again

A shop steward from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was shot dead at one of Lonmin's South African mines yesterday, sparking fears of a renewed cycle of violence in the country's troubled platinum mining belt.

Lonmin said the shooting, in which another union official was also critically injured, took place at Wonderkop near the town of Marikana, where police shot dead 34 miners last August, the country's deadliest police action since the end of apartheid. Both men were Lonmin employees, the company said.

The rand retreated against the dollar after the shooting while shares in Lonmin fell more than 4 per cent amid fears of further unrest in the mining sector.

Tensions in South Africa's mining sector remain high. Glencore Xstrata said yesterday it had sacked 1,000 workers across three of its chrome mines for an illegal strike last week that halted operations.