Over 500 employees are expected to lose their jobs as Moolman Mining Botswana-the company that was contracted by Tati Nickel Mining Company (TNMC) to do excavation work-has shut down its operations indefinitely.
This was revealed by Mbiganyi Ramokate, Secretary General of Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) in an interview with Sunday Standard last week. He said BMWU received a letter from the management of Moolman on Friday indicating that the company has decided to shut down its operations at TNMC.
“They served us with a letter on Friday afternoon stating that they will be shutting down operations indefinitely. We are really worried because we were never properly consulted before Moolman made that decision. It’s devastating because our members are going to lose their jobs,” said Ramokate.
In January 2016, Moolman suspended operations until further notice as a cost cutting exercise. Just over a month later, the company has resolved to shut down operations completely. Ramokate said BMWU will meet with the management of Moolman on February 16th at Adonsonia Hotel in Francistown to try and resolve the situation. In the meantime, the union will consult with members and to try and map the way forward.
Sunday Standard is in possession of the letter written to BMWU by Donald Matlhodi, Human Resources Manager at Moolman, in which he states that the shutdown was due to the expiry of its mining contract with TNMC.
“This is to notify you in accordance with section 25 of the Employment Act that Moolman Mining Botswana intends to terminate the contracts of employment of employees due to the closing down of its operations at Phoenix Mine. This has unfortunately become necessary following the expiry of our mining contract on December 31, 2015 and failure to secure an extended contract for 2016,” said Matlhodi.
He added that Moolman had exhausted all commercial options that would enable it to continue mining despite retaining a presence at Phoenix mine without a contract since 01 January 2016.
“This is not sustainable and we accordingly have no option but to commence with site closure,” said Matlhodi.
Moolman Mining Botswana has a pending court case with BMWU before the Industrial Court over alleged unfair dismissals.
Efforts to get comments from Matlhodi hit a snag as he referred all questions to the Senior Contract Manager, who was said to be on leave. TNMC Public Relations Manager, Tebogo Rapitsenyane was also not ready to comment on the issue. Moolman Mining is one of the largest excavating companies in Africa. According to its website, the company moves over 40 million tonnes of material each month and has over 40 years’ experience in mining. Apart from excavation, the company also offers services such as mine planning, survey production, scheduling and grade control.