More than 400 jobs are at risk as Africa-focused copper miner Weatherly, weighed by some $140 million in debt, is set to halt operations at its Tschudi mine in northern Namibia at the beginning of March, a union official said on Wednesday.
“(Weatherly) are looking at an alternative investor, however, if they don’t get one, over 400 workers will lose their jobs,” Paul Situmba, assistant secretary-general of the Mine Workers Union, told Reuters.
“Weatherly hosts a total of 150 permanent employees, as well as subcontractor workers from Basil Read and B & E Mining, which make up the bulk of the employees that will face the axe.”
Financing company Orion has reduced funding to the firm saying the activities are no longer viable.
“Weatherly owes Orion $140 million. There is no way that can be repaid [given the current] state of copper mining,” Weatherly Mining Namibia Managing Director John Sisay told local media last week.
Sisay was not available for immediate comment on Wednesday.
But he is on record saying the miner’s debt to Orion and the depressed copper market made it unlikely that mining would continue at Tschudi in the foreseeable future.
He was, however, optimistic that new investors could potentially come on board.
“We are talking to several interested parties. They just need to understand the asset better, the ore body better. We hope for a stronger market in 2020. The asset in terms of mining equipment is still fairly new and working well,” Sisay said.
(By Nyasha Nyaungwa; Editing by Jason Neely)