MUN worried about Chinese monopoly

07 February 2019 | Labour

The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) is worried about the Chinese monopoly that will be created in Namibia's uranium mining industry if the sale of Rio Tinto shares in Rössing Uranium Mine goes ahead.

The acting president of the MUN, Allen Kalumbu, yesterday expressed concern about the sale of the Rio Tinto shares in Rössing Uranium to China Uranium Corporation, a Chinese state-owned company.

Rio Tinto announced towards the end of last year that it was selling its share in Rössing Uranium to China National Uranium Corporation for N$1.5 billion

According to Kalumbu this would mean that more than 90% of Namibia's uranium mines would be owned by Chinese state companies.

If this acquisition goes through, Chinese state-owned companies will own the majority shareholding in the biggest uranium mines in the country, which are the Husab mine, Rössing, Langer Heinrich and Trekkopje.

The China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) and China-Africa Development Fund hold the majority shares in Husab. CNNC, of which CNUC is a subsidiary, holds 25% shares in Langer Heinrich.

“We fear that this can be a direct monopoly which might have a negative impact in the near future, considering the negative history we have with Chinese companies in the country. We fear that our members might be negatively affected,” he said.

Kalumbu said the union would like to believe that the government would work together with MUN to ensure that the new owners do not come up with conditions that directly or indirectly harm workers.

“The MUN will not fold its hands when members are threatened,” he said.

He also expressed concern about the delay in getting the new Gergarub zinc mine at Rosh Pinah operational.

He said it is public knowledge that the life of the Skorpion Zinc mine at the town is coming to an end and that jobs are on the line.

“The only possible approach is that this new deposit found at Gergarub mine at Rosh Pinah needs to be expedited for it to open and create jobs for Namibians.”

Gergarub is a joint venture between Skorpion Zinc and Rosh Pinah Zinc, the other miner at the town.

Kalumbu said the lack of government intervention in this matter was unacceptable.

“These two investors have been allowed back and forth fighting for these resources, yet government has been renewing their licences to the resources as if they are doing something.”

According to him the union wants its members to have job security.

“We want investors who have long-term solutions to our current unemployment problem.”

He added that they did not want mining towns to become ghost towns when investors disinvest and that all existing agreements must be honoured by the incoming investors.

“We also want our products to start adding value to our country, not this current status of our mineral resources leaving the country in raw state.”


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