JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – JSE-listed diamond miner Trans Hex Group on Wednesday confirmed that it had placed its Bloeddrif mine, in the Richtersveld region of the Northern Cape, on care and maintenance.
Earlier this week, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) condemned the “sudden closure” of the mine and claimed that the miner had informed its 110 members there of the mine’s closure at “the eleventh hour”.
Trans Hex, however, said Bloeddrif has been a marginal operation for a number of years, as it has approached the end of its viable life-of-mine and that NUM were kept regularly informed of the circumstances at Bloeddrif.
“The ever-declining diamond grade and stone size, together with increasing production costs, have resulted in significant financial losses being incurred,” the company stated.
Bloeddrif is part of Trans Hex’s ageing Lower Orange River (LOR) operations and currently employs 115 employees. The LOR operations are covered under one mining right and comprise the Baken mine, Bloeddrif, Reuning – placed on care and maintenance during the 2015 financial year – and various other small, discontinued operations.
“The situation has worsened in the current financial year and action has now been taken to contain further losses and, critically, to give Baken mine the best possible chance of survival, at least in the short term, as the last of the LOR operations,” the miner noted, adding that Baken currently employed 360 people.
Trans Hex noted that all employees were formally briefed about the mine’s closure by members of management on May 16.
Bloeddrif employees were also notified that they will continue to receive full pay while the company undertakes the necessary statutory processes of engagement and consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the NUM and representatives of nonunionised employees through the LOR operations’ established Future Forum structure.
This process will include Trans Hex giving NUM formal notice of possible retrenchments in terms of Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act, it said, adding that it would engage in a full process of consultation with NUM before any decision on potential retrenchments is taken.