More than 100 workers at the Discovery Metal Limited’s Boseto Mine resumed duty on Monday after downing tools last week Friday in protest of delayed overtime payments.
The workers apparently decided to withhold their labour after realising that DML could probably decide to vacate the mine without paying them what is due to them.
According to the President of Botswana Mine Workers Union Jack Tlhagale, after a meeting with the DML management on Friday an agreement was reached and the management has agreed to credit the full amount owed to its employees by end of this month.
Tlhagale said DML has indicated that the ‘no work, no pay’ rule would not be applied for the period the miners took off work. He said the union will meet DML management again on February 12 to review the agreement after which it will meet its members on February 25th to review queries related to the payment.
The miners are apparently owed overtime payments dating from January 2014 to date. All shift workers and workshop are - according to Tlhagale - affected and were participating in the protest.
DML announced last year that the troubled 15,000-tonnes-per-year copper mine, which cut 85 jobs early this year in a restructuring exercise, will be placed on “care and maintenance” following an internal review over the economic feasibility of Boseto, which pointed to a soft market outlook for copper, where the price of the metal has dropped by $1,000 per tonne, or 15 percent, since January last year.
The mine management was quoted indicating that the review concluded that the current outlook for copper pricing on world commodity markets is expected to remain soft in the short to medium term and hence a recovery in the profitability of the Boseto open pit operations is unlikely in the near future.
More than 300 workers who represent 90 % of the workforce will be reportedly retrenched before the mining operations are deferred by the middle of the year.
The group, which took part in the Friday protest, is among those to be retrenched. “The work contracts will be terminated by April this year, and most of them informed the union that they do not want to risk not being paid for their overtime hours when they part ways with DML,” Tlhagale said.
It has, however, surfaced that DML has entered into a US$5 million short-term working capital facility with Cupric. A condition to the facility agreement grants Cupric a period of exclusivity to allow it to complete due diligence, and to allow time for both Discovery Metals and Cupric to finalise and agree definitive terms of the potential transaction.
Since commissioning the mine in 2012, DML has been plagued by operational and financial challenges as low copper prices coupled with low ore grade recovery pulled the company finances down. Discovery’s major assets in Botswana are Boseto and Dikoloti in the North East District, which is a joint venture with the Japan Oil Gas Metals & Energy Corporation (JOGMEC), who have earned a right to 60 percent of the project.