MOPANI Copper Mines yesterday gave out letters sending workers on mandatory leave in view of operation difficulties made worse by the coronavirus.
According to a letter to one of the affected individuals, the mining company carried out a comprehensive review of the business two weeks ago.
The letter signed by J. Ndhlovu, manager human resources indicates that the mine advised that conditions of its business had been extremely challenging in recent years and that the economic and regulatory conditions continued to impact Mopani.
“We now face the added complexity of the coronavirus outbreak. As a result of the outbreak, the price of copper has fallen rapidly, placing yet more pressure on our business,” reads the letter.
“In addition to the impact of a rapid decline of the copper price, Mopani’s situation has been further impacted by the critical disruptions to international mobility, transportation and supply chains arising from COVID-19. Unfortunately, in the current difficult circumstances, we have had to take the difficult decision to immediately place the mining operations on care and maintenance.”
Ndhlovu told the affected workers that as the mine proceeds into care and maintenance, they would proceed on mandatory leave and would not be required to report for work.
According to the letter, the workers must remain available should the mine require their services.
“Your accrued leave days will at this stage remain intact. This position will be reviewed in June 2020,” reads the letter. “You will for now continue to receive your basic pay and housing allowance. This position will be reviewed in June 2020.”
Mopani told the workers that they would not be eligible for any other allowances that accrued with their reporting for work.
Ndhlovu also told the workers that leave days would not accrue to them during the time they would be at home.
“Whilst you remain in Mopani’s employment and continue to receive a salary, you are not permitted to take on full-time or formal employment elsewhere,” reads the letter.
Mopani said during care and maintenance, it would continue to maintain its commitments to the workforce and the local communities.
It said it would also engage the government and unions regarding the nature and duration of such support.
Ndhlovu informed the workers that Mopani run schools and hospitals would continue to be supported and full-time employees and their dependents would continue receiving healthcare.
“I recognise this may be a concerning and difficult time. We are working with all our stakeholders to minimise any impact of care and maintenance. Should you have any further questions, please contact your line manager or departmental HR officer,” he said.
Ndhlovu also advised the workers to take precautions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.