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B2Gold melts down, announces retrenchments

2023-04-14  John Muyamba

B2Gold melts down, announces retrenchments

B2Gold Namibia, which over the past few months had battled worker unrest and uncertainty over the future of the Otjikoto Mine due to its limited gold resource, will commence with a phased mine closure process.

This will affect the mine site and Windhoek office staff. 

Workers will be retrenched through the closure process. However, the workers’ union claims they have not been consulted.

B2Gold indicated in a memo to workers on Wednesday that detailed information regarding the affected employees will not be shared now, as this process is yet to be finalised. 

“The retrenchment policy and retrenchment criteria are currently unavailable as consultations with the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) have not been finalised. The company is committed to negotiating in good faith and being transparent with our communication, and will share the agreement/policy once it has been finalised,” said Eric Barnard, general manager of B2Gold’s Otjikoto Mine.

B2Gold, which acquired the Otjikoto Gold Mine from Auryx Gold in 2011, followed with construction of the mine. This commenced from April 2013, and was completed in the last quarter of 2014. Their first gold was poured on 5 December 2014, with the operation reaching commercial production on 1 March 2015. 

The mine’s most recent approved life of mine plan (LoM) indicates a current mine life (including the processing of low-grade stockpiles) of approximately nine years (beginning 2023) – unless a significant open pit discovery or extension to the underground reserves is discovered. 

“Based on the LoM, the open pit end of life will likely be the end of 2024, with open pit mining output ramping down to 50% of production capacity in 2024.

“The processing and milling of low-grade stockpiles will continue until approximately 2031 (provided that this activity is proven to be economically viable),” Barnard said.

He added that B2Gold remains committed to the Otjikoto Mine, and continues to invest a considerable amount of money in exploration activities around the mine, with the hopes that the project’s life can be extended. 

Barnard indicated that the workforce reduction (retrenchment) plan is based on a ramp-down schedule, which was finalised last year. 

Yesterday, MUN aired their disappointment that they were not consulted by B2Gold at office level. 

“We also just got wind of it today, as much as they are claiming that they have been consulting workers from 11 to 12 April. Currently, we are still consulting on the ground regarding their consultation and what has transpired, and I’m sure since we are a key stakeholder, they might come brief you,” said Paul Situmba, the assistant general secretary of MUN.

“I think they are playing tactics of trying to deal with employees directly, which I think is a direct violation of our standing relationship. One would expect that they would engage the union. As far as our head office is concerned, we have not been engaged yet,” he noted.

Situmba said it would be premature for the union to already determine the impact, or what steps they could take at this stage. 

“If you read the memo, no statistics are being mentioned there. We still really don’t know which part of the mine they want to close down. We are waiting for them to come brief us as per the norm, and once we have been briefed and we have the proper insight of whatever the intention is, only then will we be able to engage properly,’’ he continued.


2023-04-14  John Muyamba

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