NUM concerned over Ekapa Mine workers possibly losing jobs

The historical diamond mine in Kimberley. Picture: iStock

The historical diamond mine in Kimberley. Picture: iStock

The mine says it has become economically unsustainable and has asked employees to take 25% salary cuts for the next three months.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in the Northern Cape says it is concerned that about 2 000 employees at the Kimberley Ekapa Mine might soon be jobless. This as the mine faces possible closure.

The mine, which is still in talks with the union, said it has become economically unsustainable and not viable as a result of the world market price decline for rough diamonds.

It confirmed it has requested employees to take 25% salary cuts for the next three months.

The CEO for Ekapa Minerals, Jahn Hohne, said there was an urgent need for an alternative business model that could be implemented immediately, or the company could soon close its doors.

The union’s regional secretary, Cornelius Manhe, on the other hand, said the proposed 25% salary cut across all positions was under question as it would have a huge negative impact on employees at low-level positions earning small salaries, as opposed to those in managerial positions.

He said they were still in talks with the mine, studying documents they were furnished with, and would soon chart a way forward.

Hohne said in a statement the world market price decline equated to an approximately 20% year-on-year price decrease in dollar terms for Ekapa’s mining operations in Kimberley. This was coupled with about R3 million per month spent on security and infrastructure costs.

He said the chances of a complete shutdown of the business were very high if urgent steps were not taken.

“We have been doing everything in our power to protect the jobs of our approximately 1 400 employees and another 600 people working on contract for the company.

“We have been working around the clock to find alternatives, including additional finance options, without success,” said Hohne.

He added they were working closely with staff members and representing trade unions to find sustainable solutions.

“The options we have left are to increase underground tonnage for increased revenue and significant cost reduction measures. Management proposed that all employees across the board consider a voluntary 25% reduction of their salary for a fixed-term period of three months.

“The proposal was not arrived at easily. However, the situation is critical.”

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