Paladin to cut Malawi staff at Kayerekera mine by 18 percent

Created on Friday, 25 January 2013 03:27 Written by PIUS NYONDO

MZUZU--Paladin Africa Limited (PAL) says it will reduce the number of employee at its Kayerekera Mine (KM) in Malawi's border district of Karonga in response to economic hardships caused by dwindling uranium prices on the global market, MaraPost has learnt.


In a press statement made available to MaraPost Thursday, PAL General Manager Greg Walker says following a review of manning levels at its operations, the company is reducing its Malawi national workforce by 100 people, from 613 people employed to 503, representin an 18  percent staff reduction.


Ironically, the development comes a few months after some Karonga-based non-governmental organisations led by Karonga Youth for Justice and Development (KYJD) which called off a protest against PAL, claming the company was "not doing enough in as far as its social corporate responsibility towards the development of Karonga and the entire Malawi nation at large is concerned."


The protest, which was aborted at the eleventh hour late last year, was aimed at putting pressure on PAL so that it could "fulfill promises it had made to the people of Karonga."


According to KYJD Publicist Stevenson Simusokwe, PAL had promised the people of Karonga a referral hospital, good road network in the district and free water.


But from the retrenchment statement, dated January 24 2013, PAL says it has been operating at a loss and further adds that circumstances beyond its control have led to the decision to trim down its staff not only at Kayerekera but also at its Langer Heinrich Mine in Namibia and at the company's head office in Australia.


"Despite achieving its best production results to-date in the December Quarter, when KM produced 772, 280Ib of uranium oxide, PAL continues to operate at a loss, as it has done since the commencement of production in July 2010. The company has been able to remain in operation only due to continued financial support provided by the parent company, Paladin Energy Limited.


"Expatriate positions are also being reduced-by 24 percent-from 118 to 90. The company has advised the Ministry of labour of Labour of this move; informed the KM Local Staff Association (LSA), which represents national employees, and notified its workforce," reads the statement in part.


The statement further mentions that PAL has worked hard on a number of cost reduction measures to reduce company losses citing a nano-filtration project that will provide for more efficient use of acid in the production process and the switchover to commercial ESCOM grid power as an alternative to the high cost of on-site diesel generation.


"These two projects, if successful, will provide substantial cost reductions (potentially in the order of US$5-8/Ib), but they are not expected to be completed before late 2013, at the earliest."


PAL, however, assures all who would lose their jobs that it will mitigate the effects of its decision on her employees. Among other things, the employees will paid up to the end of the month of January, one month's salary in lieu of notice-for the month of February which will include the value of benefits as applicable to the employees concerned and the value of any leave credits that they have at the time of retrenchment.


Adds the statement: "PAL has also engaged the services of a Malawian company which specializes in providing advice and counseling to affected employees. The company will consider retrenched employees for re-employment if redundant positions are ever re-established at KM. Any other arising vacancies need to be filled on the basis of skills suitability and these employees will be considered-if they apply for other positions-on the basis of their suitability and against that of other candidates who may apply at that time."

(c) The Maravi Post