Pan African Resources’ Evander Gold Mine will retrench the majority of employees at the end of May, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Thursday. The union said it noted the decision to let 1,722 out of 1,812 workers go on May 26 with grave concern.
“This is done regardless of the NUM requesting the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) to intervene in line with leaders’ declaration in mining industry commitment to save jobs and ameliorate the impact of job losses,” the NUM said in a statement. Evander Gold Mine is currently constructing a plant aimed at refining the tailings and still making a profit while workers face poverty, the union said.
“The plant under construction had a budget of R1.7-billion. If the company had used this budget to improve the ageing structure as they allege the closure of the mine could have been avoided.
“However, Pan African Resources as a capitalist in their nature and character seeks to maximise profit at the expense of workers, directed resources to surface operation, neglecting the underground operation which will result in the surface operation being operated by contractors perpetuating cheap labour.”
The union claims there is enough ore to allow the mine to run for another 40 years, and accuses Pan African of acting irrationally in closing down an operation that had the potential to create jobs.
“What is painful is the fact that Pan African Resources gave employees an ultimatum to vacate the company houses by the 30th May 2018 (as the company is) planning to sell those houses. This is painful because 80 percent of the workforce was drawn from all over the country and the neighbouring countries and they now reside with their families and their kids being registered at surrounding schools.
“The fundamental question is when Pan African Resources dismisses these employees from the company houses what will happen to the learners at this point in time? This, of course, proves that Pan African Resources does not care about workers who generated profit for them over the years,” said the NUM.
The NUM said if Pan African Resources cannot continue operating Evander Gold Mine the company should surrender its mining licence to government instead of closing down.