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Protests hit second largest uranium mine in Namibia

About 300 workers, including mine staff and contractor employees, picketed at Langer Heinrich Uranium (LHU) mine last Thursday over pay and working conditions, The Namibian reported.

Workers and media were barred from the minesite where the demonstration was supposed to take place although the protesters had organized the peaceful demonstration at the beginning of last week and had announced it to the mine’s management.

As a result, all day shift buses were forced to stop inside the concession area where workers then had to disembark – about five kilometres away from the actual site.

To their dismay, the protesters were forced to picket at the concession area. The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) branch executives felt that the mine’s management snubbed what it termed a legal and democratic action.

Werner Duvenhage LHU Managing Director (MD) was allegedly out of town but Hein Daiber, the mine’s Human Resources consultant, received the petition on behalf of the mine’s board of directors.

This protest follows another demonstration that was held two months ago during which a petition requesting the removal of Duvenhage was delivered.

Some of the issues pertain to female worker’s miscarriages; Duvenhage’s apparent failure to engage with the union; the company’s reluctance to give workers a “single cent” for an annual increment; unfair performance bonuses; nepotism and corruption.

“We demand that the interest of the marginalised workers of this mine must receive your urgent intervention,” the petition reads. “The interest of workers of LHU is overlooked and ignored intentionally with the purpose only known to the managing director Mr Werner Duvenhage. Different attempts to report this issue to different stakeholders has been exhausted, however, notwithstanding our endeavors to that extent, nothing has been addressed to this date.”

With 2,306 tonnes of uranium oxide produced in 2012, Langer Heinrich is the second largest uranium mine in Namibia, after Rössing.

Australian-based Paladin Energy Ltd. (TSE:PDN) owns 100% interest in the mine.

Creative commons image by: Alberto Otero García