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About 1,700 workers of Goldfields (Tarkwa Mine) are on the verge of losing their jobs in a massive lay off exercise being undertaken by the company with the aim reducing its workforce.

It has planned to issue dismissal letters to workers from tomorrow, Wednesday, December 13, and this will be the second time Goldfields is laying off staff in three years.

goldfiels
A section of mineworkers

But the workers at the Tarkwa Mine are bent on resisting the attempt to terminate their appointment without proper negotiations.

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The jobs cut is as a result of a new “Contract Mining” operating model Goldfields has adapted to survive in the industry.

The workers say Goldfields is embarking on the exercise with the explanation that its current Life of Mine (LoM) stands between five and six years, and therefore, cannot purchase new mining fleet, considering the short payback period.

In a statement issued on Monday in response to the threats by the workers, Goldfields insists that the ageing mining fleet and a limited mine life had made it imperative to change its operating model from owner mining to contract mining, saying that only 1,500 employees would be affected.

“The mine, since it started production in 1996, operated the contract mining model until 2004 when it switched to owner mining. Under the owner mining model, the Tarkwa Mine acquired, operated and maintained its mining fleet. Over time, however, most of the mining fleet has aged and need to be replaced,” it stated.

It said it would require an estimated $519 million of sustaining and operating capital to maintain operations over the next five to six years.

“The contract mining option will provide a healthy fleet for higher productivity (through increased equipment availability) and allow the mine to focus on aggressive exploration to potentially extend the mine life,” it explained.

But the workers are suspicious of the move indicating that the facts about the mine do not support the plan of management.

The workers believe that the decision by Goldfields to adopt contract mining strictly by a limited LoM of five to six years is entirely “unfortunate and disingenuous.”

The Ghana Mineworkers’ Union, in a statement, described the conversion plan of the company as “unrealistic.”

“On aging fleet, GFG has unsuccessfully tried to create the impression that for the business to remain viable it needs to replace all its current fleet en bloc – a situation we find extremely unrealistic both in theory and practice,” said the statement signed by Prince William Ankrah, General Secretary for Ghana Mines Workers’ Union.

According to the Union, “it is important to state that like every business, particularly mining, a bit of capital injection from time to time remains critical to sustaining the business and expanding it. It is of this background that a fleet replacement plan remains inextricably linked to mine planning and therefore often incorporated into every mine plan.”

According to its 2016 audited Mineral Resources/Reserve report, Goldfields currently has 6.1 million ounces in mineral reserve and 3 million ounces in mineral resource with the potential to convert most of this resource into reserve and increase the LoM based on an aggressive exploration plan supported by a more favourable economic environment.

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“With a projected average gold production for 2017 of 545,000 ounces, if you delete that from the reserve of 6.1 million ounces as at December 2016, the mineral reserve at the close of 2017 will stand at 5.55 million ounces. This converts approximately to a 14-year life (eight years mining, followed by processing of the surface stockpile and South Heap Leach material). This, however, means that with an aggressive exploration plan, supported by a more favourable economic environment, the LoM of GFG could go beyond its current 14-year life.”

By: ADR Daily News Desk

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