29 Oct 2014 15:30pm
WINDHOEK, 29 OCT (NAMPA) Belgian chemical company Solvay has announced the suspension of its mining operations at the Okorusu Fluorspar Mine.
Solvay is the parent company of this mine, located about 60 kilometres north of Otjiwarongo in the Otjozondjupa Region.
The mines Managing Director Mark Dawe said in a media statement issued on Tuesday that after 26 successful years, the mines viable higher-grade ore resources are depleted, resulting in production no longer being economical.
A total of 321 full-time employees and 86 contractors will be affected by the announcement.
All Solvay employees will be given appropriate notices of termination of their employment by the end of November 2014 under severance conditions which well exceed the minimum required, as set out in the Labour Act of 2007.
Contracting companies will be given notice of termination of their contracts at the same time, Dawe was quoted as saying in the statement.
In addition to setting up a help centre, the Okorusu management will be working closely with the Chamber of Mines of Namibia to facilitate the placement of as many employees as possible at other Namibian mines.
While preliminary research has shown a significant improvement in the separation of fluorite (also known as fluorspar) from gangue minerals, the process is not economic under the current unfavourable market conditions, with low demand and pricing.
Gangue materials refer to the commercially worthless material which surrounds a wanted mineral in an ore deposit.
With regards to the future of the mine, Dawe said it will now enter a period of intensified exploration and metallurgical research and development to assess the potential for the beneficiation of the remaining low grade ores, and to continue searching for more viable ore resources.
To this end, about 30 employees will be rehired immediately on fixed-term contracts to carry out and supervise the care and maintenance of the mine, as well as the ongoing exploration, research and development.
The possibility of restarting mining and processing operations will depend on both the successful outcome of this intensified research and development work, as well as on improved market conditions and pricing for acid grade fluorspar.
Should the comprehensive feasibility study warrant the restarting of mining and processing operations in the future, Okorusu will endeavour to rehire as many of its previous employees and contractors as possible, Dawe said.
He added that Okorusu has committed to mitigating the environmental impact of the mine in accordance with the provisions of its Environmental Management Plan (EMP) and the mine closure and rehabilitation plan.
Accordingly, the implementation of the rehabilitation and closure plan will depend on whether or not operations will resume in 2015.