Botswana mines plan more job cuts

Lesotho Times - - Business -

GABORONE — Botswana’s min­ing in­dus­try faces fur­ther job losses as it reels from the global slump in com­modi­ties, with cop­per miner BCL set to shed up to a third of its work­force and Gem Di­a­mond also plan­ning lay­offs, the mines depart­ment has said.

State-owned BCL, Botswana’s big­gest cop­per miner, es­ti­mates it will have to cut as many as 2 000 of its 6 000 work­force as it stream­lines op­er­a­tions in the face of weak cop­per prices, cur­rently at six-year lows, the depart­ment’s di­rec­tor told lo­cal news­pa­per Mmegi.

Lon­don-listed Gem Di­a­mond ex­pects di­a­mond pro­duc­tion at its Ghaghoo mine in cen­tral Botswana to fall by more than half this year due to de­pressed de­mand for di­a­monds glob­ally. It may have to lay off more than two-thirds of its work­force as it re­struc­tures to cope with the weak mar­ket.

Botswana is the world’s big­gest pro­ducer of di­a­monds, and ex­ports of di­a­monds mined in the coun­try fell 38 per­cent to $2.4 bil­lion (about M36.51 bil­lion) last year, the south­ern African coun­try’s low­est ship­ment of gems in six years.

“The fig­ures are not fi­nal yet, but BCL plans to cut 2,000 jobs while Ghaghoo might lay off as much as 100,” Depart­ment of Mines Di­rec­tor Gabotshwarege Tshek­iso told Mmegi on Fri­day.

“We are hop­ing the ef­fects of th­ese cuts might be mit­i­gated by the up­com­ing Khoemacau Cop­per Min­ing and Ler­ala Di­a­mond Mine which might ab­sorb some of the re­dun­dant work­ers,” Mr Tshek­iso said.

The Khoemacau pro­ject, ex­pected to gen­er­ate up to 400 jobs dur­ing the 2016 con­struc­tion phase, is spear­headed by Us-based Cupric Canyon Cap­i­tal, which has al­ready in­vested over $250 mil­lion in the cop­per and sil­ver mine ac­cord­ing to sources.

Pro­duc­tion at Kim­ber­ley Di­a­monds’ Ler­ala mine, north­east of the cap­i­tal Gaborone, is due to start late this year. Kim­ber­ley is re­de­vel­op­ing the mine which was moth­balled in 2012 by its pre­vi­ous own­ers De Beers and the govern­ment.

The lat­est warn­ings on job cuts comes af­ter cop­per min­ing con­trac­tor Mool­man Min­ing cut 500 jobs in De­cem­ber and African Cop­per cut 340 jobs in late 2015.

Botswana said on Tues­day that it ex­pects its min­ing rev­enues to fall by 8% in 2016 due to the con­tin­ued fall in global com­mod­ity de­mand, led mainly by the eco­nomic slow­down in lead­ing min­er­als im­porter China. — Reuters

BCL is set to cut 2 000 of its 6 000 work­force.

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