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Khoemacau mine workers in limbo

Francinah Baaitse
Khoemacau employees petitioning government recently in Maun

Uncertainty sets in as Chinese company takes over

In a recent turn of events, the Khoemacau mine in Botswana has been sold to Chinese company MMG Limited, owned by China Minerals Corporation (CMC).

This sale has left workers at the mine in a state of uncertainty and fear for their job security.

The Botswana Mine Workers Union has expressed concerns over the potential impact of the sale on the employees.

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While the outgoing shareholders have assured the union that there will be no retrenchment and that only the shareholding will be affected, there is still apprehension among the workers.

The incoming owners may bring in their own rules, leading to restructuring and the possibility of job losses.

One of the major frustrations for the employees is the lack of information about the incoming MMG.

The workers fear that, like many other mining companies in the area, MMG may not prioritize the country’s economy or the workers.

Union Representative, Joseph Tsimako, expressed concerns about the potential impact of the incoming owners on the workforce and operations.

Tsimako, who has been closely involved with the mining community, highlighted the high possibility of restructuring and subsequent retrenchment.

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This has left employees frustrated and anxious about their future.

“There is the lack of information about the incoming MMG and their plans for the mines. Employees fear that the new owners may bring their own set of rules, which could lead to significant changes in the operations and workforce. This uncertainty is causing distress among the workers, who have already experienced the negative consequences of poor management in the past.”

Tsimako further emphasized that the abundance of coal in the copper-belt mining area is not the issue.

Rather, it is the frequent opening and closing of mines due to poor management.

“We are tired of flyby night companies that come in to dig into our country’s minerals and run off once they make big cash without concern of the country’s economy or its people. Mines open today, tomorrow they are closed because of liquidation, we are tired of this!”

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Khoemacau acquired the mine’s assets in 2015 following liquidation of Boseto mine that same year.

Boseto closed shop after operating the mine for just three years and left over 800 people jobless.

The re-opening of the mine by Khoemacau sparked new hope for Ngamiland district, but now the dreams of many are uncertain, “We don’t know the new buyer, that’s our worry. This will be the third company to run the mine.”

The sale of the mine comes at a time when the union was awaiting a response from two government ministries, Minerals and Energy and that of Labor and Home Affairs regarding their complaints against mine management.

Last month the Union petitioned Ministers of the two ministries over what they termed unfavorable working conditions at the mine including alleged racism treatment, but to date Tsimako they have not received a response from the Ministers despite their promise to do so within a short period of time.

In a press statement by the Union this week, Tsimako noted, “It is regrettable that the government through both ministries have decided not to respond or act on the BMWU petition or even acknowledge receiving the same. This is despite continued sufferings and frustration of employees at the mine.”

But is there a remedy or solution to this as Khoemacau has already sold its shares?

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Tsimako responds, “We call on the public to support the Union in their fight against mining transactions that are done without transparency and devoid of consultations with the workers.”

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