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Mine workers threaten strike

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HARARE — The Associated Mine Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe has threatened to withdraw members from mining companies that are not abiding by safety regulations after a horrific accident at Golden Valley Mine killed seven workers last week.

The union’s president Tinago Ruzive said the union will down tools to force companies to prioritise their safety after seven gold miners died and 11 were injured at Golden Valley Mine when a hoist cage transporting them down a shaft broke loose and plunged into a pool of water.

Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe data shows that 35 people died in mine accidents last year, mostly at small mines, where safety standards are low, a trend Ruzive said had to change.

“We are going out (to the mines) and where we find out that mining companies are not abiding by proper safety procedures then we simply tell the workers to down tools,” he said on Tuesday.

Cases of companies neglecting workers were on the rise added Ruzive without giving figures.

“They just want to make money. Workers’ issues are never part of their priorities,” he said.

Meanwhile, the mining sector requires huge capital outlay to reach production levels that will limit the shock of international price fluctuations, a local investment bank has said, following a decline in mineral output and earnings in the first four months of the year.

Recent figures released by the chamber of mines showed that the total value of mineral production, excluding diamonds, had declined 8,54% to $596,42 million in the four months to April, compared to the same period last year due to weakening international gold prices and low investments in the sector.

In a report, investment bank Tetrad said the trend meant the government’s 11,4% growth projection for the industry was unlikely to be realised.

“Optimum production limits the impact of soft prices unlike the scenario in Zimbabwe where there is under-production in the sector combined with weakness in commodity prices internationally,” Tetrad said in its latest report.

It urged policymakers to consider the formulation of policies that attract capital flows and foster investment promotion and protection in the sector.

“With the latest statistics and timid capital flows for the sector, we do not see the initial 11,4% growth rate for the sector being achieved. Furthermore, the liquidity crisis may worsen as mining proceeds are one of the sources of boosting domestic liquidity,” Tetrad said.

Platinum production during the period under review fell 6,4% to four tonnes, compared to last year with a value of $163,4 million.

Gold production was 0,4% lower at 4 485 tonnes with earnings dropping 18,5% to $183,1 million due to softer metal prices.

Gold production in the five months to May dropped eight percent to 5 517 tonnes compared to 6 022 tonnes last year.

“Precious metals, on the one hand, had their volumes and value down whilst most base metals witnessed significant recoveries compared to the same period last year,” Tetrad said.

Palladium’s output was flat at 3,2 tonnes and the value of the mineral rose 2,1% to $67,6 million.

Nickel tonnage rose 63,6% to 5,4 tonnes, supported by a rebound in nickel prices from the three consecutive years of decline.

Nickel advanced 29,4% to $17 950 since the beginning of the year, faster than any other base metal on the London Market Exchange.

Indonesia, the biggest nickel ore miner, banned ore exports in January to boost domestic processing and the disruption created a deficit on the global market leading to the jump in prices.

In value terms, nickel was up 25% to $56,5 million compared to $45,2 million.

Coal output increased to 2,1 million tonnes valued at $32,3 million from 1,3 million tonnes achieved last year while chrome production significantly increased to 151 621 tonnes from 43 000 tonnes. 

High carbon ferrochrome production more than doubled from 21 000 tonnes to 52 000 tonnes.

— The Source

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