JOHANNESBURG – Workers at China Molybdenum's Tenke Fungurume Mining (TFM) mine in Democratic Republic of Congo ended a one-day strike on Sunday after agreeing a compromise with management over compensation for working in isolation for two months due to COVID-19.
The Chinese mining firm placed the TFM copper and cobalt mine in isolation from March 24 to try to protect the site from the coronavirus. Essential staff were ordered to stay on site and forbidden any contact with the outside world.
"A compromise was found, though the question of rotation of workers remains to be settled, because those who have worked nearly two months need to see their families," Samsoni told Reuters, adding that production would not be affected.
A document dated May 23 seen by Reuters listed TFM employees' demands, including an extra $100 a day to compensate for working in isolation.
It was unclear how many mineworkers went on strike.
A video seen by Reuters showed a group of around 30 workers, in full protective personal equipment and face masks, singing together on the mine site.
In a letter cited by Congolese media which Reuters could not independently verify, TFM management said they agreed to pay workers an "isolation bonus", with an initial $300 to be given by Monday, and would begin to rotate workers from Wednesday.
Tenke Fungurume, one of Congo's biggest copper and cobalt mines, produced 117,956 tonnes of copper and 16,098 tonnes of cobalt in 2019.
China Moly projects the mine will produce 163 000 to 200 000 tonnes of copper and 14 000 to 17 000 tonnes of cobalt in 2020.
"Happy that the workers and their employer found, as we suggested, a solution over the 'isolation bonus', working hours and the conditions under which workers can rotate," said Labour Minister Nene Nkulu. "Production must continue, while respecting preventative measures."