22 May 2013

Namibia: Mine Woes Lead to Wesbank Retrenchments

ONE of Namibia's top transport companies, Wesbank Transport, has retrenched 30 workers as a consequence of the downsizing of Rio Tinto's Rössing and Paladin's Langer Heinrich mines.

Wesbank Transport CEO, Willem Pronk, said that 15 crane operators at Walvis Bay and 15 workers at its Windhoek depots received their last payment on 15 May.

“Things are not going well with the mines now. They are experiencing losses due to uranium prices having seriously dropped since last year. The long and the short of it is that the two major uranium mines in operation have downsized and do not need all of the equipment they had before,” he said.

Wesbank Transport did a lot of work at these two mines.

“If the equipment can't be used full time, we can't keep the people. That's the result,” he said.

Pronk said the two depots in Windhoek were merged, resulting in 15 people having to go, and Wesbank had to also “rationalise” the two workshops in Walvis Bay and in the capital.

Another factor that is affecting the transport industry in general is the “global financial crises” and the decrease in freight - “which is not like it was three years ago”.

While the bigger companies are making adjustments to save on costs, smaller transport companies may have to throw in the towel.

Pronk said most companies are effected by the current economic climate to a degree.

“This is just a sign of the times. It's not as if we are in isolation here in Namibia and the rest of the world is suffering. Everyone is struggling but it will also come right,” he confidently expressed. “Wesbank is here to stay.”

Pronk predicted that the new Husab uranium project near Arandis will bring a positive spin.

“We have submitted tenders to many parties that will be involved with the construction,” he said.

Wesbank Transport hopes to benefit from the transport of heavy equipment from the harbour to the mine. This will however only start taking off from October to the second quarter of 2014.

“Many times when one door closes, another opens,” he concluded.

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