Business

Glencore to cut 124 jobs in Namibia

Felix Njini

The commodities giant plans to cut a fifth of its workforce at a zinc mine in Namibia has been referred to the labour court.

Glencore chief executive is South African-born Ivan Glasenberg. (Reuters)

Glencore, the biggest publicly traded commodities supplier, is cutting about a fifth of the full-time positions at its Rosh Pinah zinc and lead mine in Namibia, which a mineworkers’ union is opposing.

“The management of Rosh Pinah Zinc Corp. has announced changes that aim to address significant economic pressures,” the company said in an emailed statement on Monday. “The changes affecting approximately 124 full-time employees are part of an ongoing review of operations.” The company didn’t provide more information.

The Mineworkers Union of Namibia has asked the nation’s labour court to order a halt to the reductions, General Secretary Ebben Zarondo said by phone. The company has cut 190 positions there since May 30 because it isn’t breaking even, he said.

Rosh Pinah, an underground mine 800 kilometers south of Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, had 600 permanent employees and about 138 contractors and temporary workers by the end of 2013, according to the Namibian Chamber of Mines’ annual report. 

Output of the concentrated form of zinc, used in everything from steel auto parts to rubber and sunscreen, rose 20% to 113 818 metric tonnes last year from 12 months earlier, while lead production climbed 18% to 20 551 tonnes.

Zinc for delivery in three months has climbed 1.4% on the London Metals Exchange this year, while lead has declined 4.3% in the period. Glencore’s zinc production dropped 18% to 306 000 tonnes in the first quarter ended March 31, while lead output was little changed at 79 000 tonnes, the company said on May 6.

Rosh Pinah said it has approached the chamber to help secure new employment for the affected workers.– Bloomberg

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