Skorpion lays off 278 workers

23 January 2017 | Business

STAFF REPORTER

The Skorpion Zinc mine will retrench 278 employees as part of its restructuring process.

Its general manager, Irvin Simataa made the announcement.

This is the second such exercise by a mine following similar activities at Paladin’s Langer Heinrich uranium mine in the Erongo Region.

Simataa released a statement explaining why the mine was retrenching.

“To ensure business continuity and prevent mine closure by June 2017, the company’s best alternative is to restructure and implement initiatives intended at extending the life of the mine.

“The best economic and most sensible alternative considered is the outsourcing of our mining operation to a third party with an adequate and appropriate heavy mining equipment and capability to mine large quantities of waste economically within the timeframe to prevent refinery and mine closure. This has become unavoidable. A total of 278 employees within the mining department will be affected,” said Simataa.

According to him, negotiations with the affected employees’ trade union and the affected 278 started last week already. At present, Skorpion provides employment to approximately 1 500 people, 800 directly, and to a further 700 contractors while 96% of its entire workforce is Namibian.

Vedanta’s total production was 17% lower quarter-on-quarter mainly owing to technical issues at Skorpion. The mine produced 17 000 tons, 34% higher than in the December 2015 quarter, but 25% lower than the September 2016 quarter, as increased upstream material handling challenges to treat wetter-than-anticipated ore through the refinery arose.

Currently, Skorpion produces 1.5 metric tons per annum of oxide ore, has a nameplate capacity of 150 000 tons per annum of refined zinc. While the remaining reserve and resource of 5 million tons is expected to be exhausted by 2020.

Skorpion was opened in 2003 and was owned by Anglo American at the time. Vedenta took control of the mine in 2010. Skorpion is currently the eighth largest zinc mine in the world.

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