Skorpion Zinc workers redeployed

The mine management says it is necessary to get a bigger contractor on board to keep the mine open.

31 January 2017 | Labour

Skorpion Zinc Mine and Refinery has confirmed that it has notified 278 of its 1 500 employees that they will be redeployed after the company decided to outsource its mining activities to the South African company Basil Read.

The general manager of Skorpion Zinc, Irvinne Simataa, yesterday said it would be expected of Basil Read to “absorb” these workers since it was anticipated to create about 450 jobs for Namibians.

“The affected employees will be given preference in the recruitment process,” Simataa said.

The company said it had to outsource its mining department to ramp up its production capacity and ensure the required leverage to continually supply iron ore.

“We have had discussions over the last year about the short lifespan of the mine. We had to come up with a tenable solution not to close the mine down,” Simataa said.

The mine said it had informed the relevant stakeholders of its intention to restructure its operations by outsourcing the mining activities,

Simataa said Basil Read had the capacity to manage the next phase of the mine development, which is the Pit 122 mine life extension project.

The Pit 112 project will involve pre-stripping of large quantities of waste rock – from 17 million tons per year to 40 million tons per year – to broaden and deepen the current Pit 103, which will run out of minable ore in June this year.

The corporate affairs manager of Skorpion Zinc, Nora Ndopu, said the company did not have the capacity to mine the large quantities of waste economically and within the required timeframe. The cost of acquiring such capacity would render the Pit 112 project uneconomical, hence the decision to outsource to Basil Read.

She said if the Pit 112 project did not go ahead the mine and refinery would have to close down for an indefinite period. That could mean that the mine would have to retrench its full complement of 1 500 workers and contractors by the middle of the year.

The company said Pit 112 would access new minable ore and in this way extend the life of the mine by three years until 2020.

Simataa said the process had been “very transparent” and the affected workers were kept informed about the process. He said he embarked on road shows last November to inform workers and the town of Rosh Pinah of the impending retrenchments.

“We have spoken to everyone that needed to be spoken to. It would be irresponsible to close an asset like this.

What needs to happen has to happen in earnest,” said Simataa.

Workers were notified on 16 January that retrenchments would start and redeployment would follow that.

All stakeholders, including the labour commissioner, the Mineworkers Union (MUN) and all affected individuals outside the bargaining unit of the MUN, had been informed of the retrenchments, Simataa said.

CATHERINE SASMAN

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