Optimum Coal Mine to minimise operations

Picture: Thinkstock

More than 1000 people will be without work if some operations at Optimum Coal Mine in Mpumalanga were closed due to financial hardship, Glencore said on Thursday.

“Glencore subsidiary… is strongly considering closing some of its operations in South Africa which would reduce its overall production in South Africa by at least 5 million saleable tonnes per annum,” said spokesman Gugulethu Maqetuka in a statement.

“The proposed closure of these operations would affect approximately 1070 employees.”

The proposal was initiated due to ongoing financial hardship at Optimum arising from difficult market conditions and the continued deterioration in the export coal price.

Should the economic conditions improve, the company would consider re-opening the operations.

The affected areas would include the Optimum opencast operations, large portions of the coal processing plants, and associated support services.

Optimum would retain the underground mining operations and sufficient processing capacity to ensure continued supply of coal to Hendrina Power Station.

The National Union of Mineworkers said it was shocked to learn of the closure.

“The National Union of Mineworkers is shocked and saddened by the decision taken by Glencore to close down Optimum Coal Mine in Mpumalanga,” said NUM Highveld regional secretary Stanley Lebelo.

“The decision to close down the operations has left our members shocked because they were not given any prior notice of closure before being invited by the management yesterday afternoon to a meeting at 5pm.”

Lebelo said the union was shocked that Glencore would make such a decision without first engaging and informing its employees.

However, Maqetuka said that mine management had engaged with NUM senior leadership.

“It’s not that the workers representatives were not informed,” he said.

Optimum would continue to engage with the recognised unions and affected employees to determine the settlement.

“Optimum will ensure that the employee engagement process is conducted in line with applicable labour legislation,” Maqetuka said.

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