Friday, July 15, 2011

Strike Halts Production At Rossing Uranium Mine

Published on Friday July 15 2011

15 July 2011 - A strike at mining giant Rio Tinto's Rossing uranium mine in Namibia ‒ the third largest uranium mine in the world ‒ has brought production of the energy metal there to a complete standstill.

“Production came to a halt yesterday morning, but we have not yet made an assessment of the losses,” Rossing corporate affairs manager Jerome Mutumba confirmed here. Union officials could not be reached immediately for comment.

Some 500 to 600 workers went on strike, demanding a bonus payment and distribution of the pension fund surplus to employees, according to a letter sent by Rio Tinto to union officials and union papers seen by Reuters.

Rio Tinto said in the letter it considered the strike illegal and could lodge an action for damages against those responsible for the "substantial losses".

Rossing ‒ a large, low-grade open pit uranium mine ‒ is the world's third largest producer of uranium oxide globally. According to Rio Tinto, the mine accounts for around 3.85% of Namibia's gross domestic product.

It is 68.6% owned by Rio, with the remaining stake owned by Iran, South Africa's Industrial Development Corporation and the Namibian government. At the end of 2010, Rossing had 1,592 permanent employees.

Rio Tinto spokespeople in London could not be reached immediately for comment.

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