Monday, October 25, 2021

Botswana mining sector sheds thousands of jobs

Botswana mining sector is expected to shed thousands of jobs in a massive hemorrhage that runs across the sector, from copper to diamonds. Thousands of Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB) employees were this week uncertain of their future as the company is undergoing a restructuring exercise which is expected to shed an undisclosed number of jobs.

The hardest hit, however  is state-owned BCL, Botswana’s biggest copper miner, which is expected 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,. 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 last year, the country’s lowest shipment of gems in six years. 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. The DTCB has already started the retrenchment exercise and a number of executive managers have lost their jobs. While he declined to disclose the number of managers who have been cut by DTCB, spokesperson Kago Mmopi confirmed on Friday that “we have parted ways with a number of senior managers.”

He said the restructuring and impending job losses were triggered by the introduction of DTCB 2020 strategy that replaced the 2015 strategy that ended last year December. “I’m not at liberty to disclose how many senior managers we have parted ways with as DTCB. The consultation with stakeholders such as the department of labour and unions was followed to the latter. Negotiations are still ongoing with unions,” he said.

On reports that the matter has created uncertainty among DTCB staff members, Mmopi said change by its nature depending on its magnitude creates uncertainty. “We are trying to deal with the said uncertainty by engaging with our employees,” he said. He confirmed reports that the restructuring is in three phases. “After we have parted ways with the senior management we will then look at the middle management where we will also part ways with some middle managers and it is also likely to affect the general staff,” he said. Mmopi told Sunday Standard that consultations; selection and replacement criteria are ongoing.

“Some employees will apply for their jobs and get their jobs back and others will not while others would opt for voluntary separation,” he said. He said the objective of the 2020 strategy is to improve efficiency and “to effect the change we needed to restructure the business.” DTCB Union Secretary General Elvis Radimo confirmed that they are currently in talks with DTCB management over the restructuring exercise that is likely to lead to massive job losses. He said a considerable number of employees from the support service department will lose their jobs around May this year.

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