Lower copper prices send 222 home

16 Sep 2015 10:10am
WINDHOEK, 16 SEP (NAMPA) – A total of 222 workers are jobless after Weatherly International announced on Monday that it suspended operations at its Otjihase and Matchless mines.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Weatherly, Craig Thomas said in a media statement issued on Monday that due to 2015 copper prices reaching the lowest levels in six years, copper production at its central operations is no longer commercially viable.
“As a consequence, management has had to implement measures which, in the short term, reduce costs but, in the longer term, look to create a viable future. Production of copper concentrate at central operations is subsequently suspended during this low copper price environment,” he said.
Doing so will involve suspending mining of copper ore and production of copper concentrate, while developing the plan to prepare for a resumption of production at expanded volumes when copper prices improve, said Thomas.
He emphasised that key activities during the project development phase will include maintaining the mining and processing infrastructure in good condition ready for the resumption of operations, and investing in upgrading the definition of mineral resources at the Otjihase and Matchless mines plus creating new access tunnels into areas planned for future underground mining.
Thomas said the company continues to evaluate the opportunities in the region surrounding Otjihase, which is known to host several copper deposits as well as exploration potential. The Khomas regional endowment may present additional potential for further expansion of production, and Weatherly is well positioned to take advantage of any future opportunities due to synergies provided by its Otjihase Concentrator to materially lower unit costs for production.
“The company believes that an enlarged business unit based around the Otjihase and Matchless assets would have significantly enhanced capability for weathering any future downturns in the commodity price cycle,” he noted.
Mine Workers Union of Namibia (MUN) regional organiser Sakarias Simon confirmed the suspension of mining operations.
“We received a notice. We will respond and call the parties together to negotiate,” he noted.
Simon said the union has no bargaining agreement with Weatherly, only with Mulder Mining Services, which is a contractor at the mine.