11 March 2019

Namibia: Skorpion Zinc Mine Suffers N$22 Million Loss From Strike

Windhoek — Skorpion Zinc (SZ) this weekend confirmed that its mining contractor, Basil Read, has reported the return to work by its employees who had been on strike. Basil Read is a business partner that was contracted to execute the Pit 112 push back project as a life extension-mining project for SZ. Without this life extension project, SZ would have ended its operations in 2017.

A statement issued on Saturday reads that SZ has continued to raise its concerns that recent work stoppages have an enormously negative impact on the business. This has been the third disruption in the past seven months.

Irvinne Simataa, General Manager of SZ notes that: "This last strike has put Skorpion Zinc 14 days behind on its mining schedule and is anticipated to result in a US$22 million overall loss for the business. With the impact on current ore stock levels and the lead-time to restart mining operations, this has placed a huge risk on the viability of the business with the temporary closure of the refinery eminent due to the plant running out of material to treat. This in itself could result in the restructure and/or premature closure of the operations. "We implore all workers, be it SZ employees or our business partner, Basil Read's employees, to remain focussed and committed to ensure an expedited resolution to all outstanding issues so that everyone work together to see the delivery of the Pit 112 project and avert the premature closure of SZ... We reiterate the call on the leadership of the MUN to engage with Basil Read and with SZ through existing channels to ensure that the situation is resolved as rapidly as possible and avoid future business disruptions/stoppages," said Simataa.

Basil Read employees stopped working on February 22 this year and disciplinary hearings commenced on Sunday, March 03 where the striking employees pleaded guilty for engaging in an illegal strike.

During an earlier interview with New Era, Simataa dismissed claims about racially based wage discrepancies at Basil Read, saying the situation has only affected 50 workers and that only 12 people out of 600 workers were wrongly paid higher salaries. "Those 50 people are impacted differently and that doesn't warrant 600 people to stop going to work," said Simataa at the time.

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