Botswana: Mining Job Losses Fears Mount (All – July 11, 2016)

The aftermath of depressed commodity prices and slow uptake of locally produced minerals that has resulted in reduced production at Debswana diamond mines and copper mines is being felt as fears of more mining job losses escalate. The dreaded job cuts axe is hovering over workers at one of Debswana suppliers Multotec Botswana, with fears that the company may release some workers if their contracts, which end this year, are not renewed.

The company currently employs approximately 275 workers in different operations at Debswana mines in Orapa, Letlhakane and Jwaneng. The trade union representing miners, Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) said last week that they are awaiting feedback from Multotec Botswana to be presented at a Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) meeting on 07-08 July 2016.

“We do not know of any job losses. As far as we are concerned the company is still negotiating renewal of their contracts with Debswana. Some (contracts) have already been extended,” said Mbiganyi Moffat Ramokate – the Union Secretary General a day after the union presented a petition to Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi pleading that Government intervene to save jobs in the mines, particularly at the country’s leading copper mine BCL which faces closure.

Sources said Multotec could decide to reduce staff due to loss of business if Debswana fails to extend most of the contracts between the parties. The company, engaged in 2011 to supply and maintain equipment for processing plants at Debswana mine, was awarded three five-year contracts through their divisions Multotec Manufacturing (Pty) Ltd, Multotec Processing Equipment (Pty) Ltd, Multotec Ware Linings (Pty) Ltd.

The three divisions collectively employ approximately 275 workers, sources say. Multotec is said to have indicated that, should Debswana fail to renew their contracts, they will have no option but to downsize staff. Debswana – a partnership between mining giant De Beers and Botswana government – has been forced to cut production of rough diamonds from its mines due to a slump in the diamond market worldwide.

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