De Beers: Kimberley Mines sale won't result in lay-offs

Johannesburg - De Beers Consolidated Mines has held “numerous” meetings with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) about the fate of Kimberley Mines, De Beers spokesperson Tom Tweedy said on Wednesday.

This follows NUM’s claim on Tuesday that it had not been consulted on the sale of the mine to Ekapa Minerals. As a result, the union threatened to march on the company on Thursday next week.

READ: NUM takes De Beers on over Kimberley Mines

Tweedy said the company had been open and transparent about the Kimberley Mines life of mine, which comes to an end in 2018. “During the course of 2014 and 2015 the company’s management team has had numerous engagements with stakeholders, including the Kimberly Mines NUM branch,” he said.

He said since October 2014 the company has hosted at least 10 engagement sessions with the union “where issues relating to Kimberley Mines’ future were raised or potentially could have been raised”.

De Beers also moved to allay NUM’s fears of job losses, saying there would be no retrenchments. “Kimberley Mines is not being closed, but sold to Ekapa Minerals as a going concern. Being sold as a going concern means that the provisions of Section 197 of the Labour Relations Act will apply.

"In terms of these provisions, all employee contracts will be transferred to the new owner on terms and conditions which on the whole are no less favourable than they currently enjoy,” Tweedy said.

Meanwhile, Tweedy on Wednesday said the sale is the best way to extend the life of the the mine beyond the anticipated closure in 2018.

De Beers Consolidated Mines chose to sell the mine because mining the remaining tailing resources requires a flexible, efficient and low-cost operator. De Beers has a relatively high cost base compared to smaller mining companies. The company said it considered a number of options and the disposal was “the most responsible and feasible” option.

Tweedy said Kimberley Mines offers an attractive investment opportunity for an experienced operator who can extend the operating life of the mine to 2030 by developing a low-cost operating model. “A lower cost diamond producer should be in a position to operate Kimberley Mines more profitably for longer than De Beers,” he said.

He said Ekapa Minerals was chosen after a comprehensive bid process in conjunction with Standard Bank. This entailed sending invitations to tender to 76 bidders. From this the company received four binding offers, and two preferred bidders were identified to separately negotiate the sale and purchase agreement.

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