Diamond producer, Namdeb, which operates land based diamond mines in the Karas Region, expects to sale its Elizabeth Bay Mine near Luderitz in the fourth quarter of 2018, Corporate Affairs Manager, Pauline Thomas, told the Windhoek Observer this week.
Elizabeth Bay Mine has contributed significantly over the years to the local economy of Lüderitz and surrounding communities, particularly in providing high quality job opportunities.
“As such, in the interest of the employees, and the community of Luderitz, it is best to find a suitable operator that could potentially prolong the mine to continue beyond the current life projected by Namdeb,” Thomas said.
In February, Namdeb announced that it was seeking a buyer for the mine, which was commissioned in 1991 and employs approximately 160 people, to secure its long-term future.
Elizabeth Bay Mine produced around 200,000 carats in 2017.
The current lifespan extends up to 2019.
Thomas also gave an update on Namdeb’s voluntary separation process, which was initially aimed at cutting 130 of the 1700 workforce through voluntary separation packages when it was announced in December last year.
She said the most recent review of Namdeb’s business plan took into consideration the undesirable impact that an unfavourable exchange rate and variable mineral resource has on the Namdeb bottom line.
“It is in this regard that Namdeb is looking at alternative ways of improving its cash flow position and business sustainability. This has resulted in Namdeb putting together a business plan that generates sufficient cash to sustain the business at the current indices.”
The new business plan, however, means that there will be a reduction in accretion activities, all capital investment activities will be reconsidered and current structures, processes as well as systems are being reviewed to support this plan.
“Various engagement sessions led by the CEO and the senior leadership team took place in July 2018, to inform employees about the new plan. These sessions were followed by labour reviews as part of aligning structures to this plan and these outcomes have resulted in a Voluntary Separation process which is open to all employees across the business and which will run from 20 August until 12 October 2018.”
This process will also allow for early retirement under voluntary separation conditions for employees, aged 50 years and older.
Shavuka Mbidhi, chairperson of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia Oranjemund branch, told the Windhoek Observer that Namdeb introduced the packages for the second time after the initial offer expired in March.
“It seems they did not meet the target,” Mbidhi said.
He said the packages are attractive to long-serving employees who are over 50, but not very attractive to younger workers who have not worked for Namdeb for a long time.
“Our members have to make individual choices, but we have asked them to exercise caution based on their needs. We cannot dictate to them.”