No takers yet for diamond mine

28 June 2018 | Business

Namdeb is still looking for a buyer for its Elizabeth Bay mine, which it put up for sale in February.

The mine, which was commissioned in 1991, has a remaining productive lifespan of only one year. But Namdeb says it could continue to operate beyond 2019 if a low-cost operator steps in. If that does not happen, Namdeb would close the mine. When asked for an update on the process, Namdeb spokesperson Pauline Thomas referred Namibian Sun to Standard Bank, which is handling the sale on behalf of Namdeb. Standard Bank would not comment, citing a confidentiality agreement with Namdeb.

Bids for the purchase of the mine closed on 13 April. Namdeb previously said it would close the mine if no buyer was found, citing the high cost of keeping the mine open.

“In the event that there are no takers for Elizabeth Bay Mine, we will go ahead and close the mine. We have other mines that we are focusing on and Elizabeth Bay Mine is not a priority at the moment for Namdeb from a cost perspective,” Thomas earlier told Windhoek Observer. In 2009, following the economic downturn, the mine was put in care and maintenance. In 2011, operations resumed through the implementation of the Elizabeth Bay Optimisation Project which, at the time, projected a four-year life-of-mine to 2014.

Continuous innovation ensured that the mine has continued to operate well beyond this time, with the current life-of-mine extending to 2019. Following a recent review, it was concluded that the best way to secure a longer future for the mine was to find a low-cost operator that would allow the mine to continue contributing to the economy. According to Namdeb, the mine employs around 160 people and produced around 200 000 carats of diamonds in 2017.



Employee concerns

The Mineworkers Union of Namibia has expressed concern about the developments at Elizabeth Bay. Its president, Desley Somseb, says they have addressed their concerns to the vice-president.

According to him, there ought to be regular stakeholder engagements with all affected parties. He claimed that the ministry of mines was preparing a report about the future of the mine.

“There is a plan rolled out by government. Meetings took place but I cannot confirm when the report will be done,” Somseb said.

The mining sector recently witnessed job losses at the Langer Heinrich uranium mine, where 600 people were laid off. Weatherly International's Tschudi copper mine is also not in full production because of groundwater flooding.



OGONE TLHAGE

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