Diamond mines to slash jobs

Kea' Modimoeng

Kea' Modimoeng

Retrenchments in the diamond mining industry seem to be on the increase due to current economic conditions.

Trade union Solidarity received three section 189 (retrenchment) notices from diamond companies this week.

According to these notices, nearly 500 employees could soon be retrenched at Rockwell Diamonds, Diamond Core Mining & Exploration, and Sandstraat Eksplorasie, which are all based in Northern Cape.

In December last year the union received notices for retrenchments of more than 700 employees of Namakwa Diamonds and Petra Diamonds.

The latest additions bring the number of affected employees in the diamond industry to more than 1200.

Solidarity spokesman Jaco Kleynhans said though companies were using the current diamond prices as a reason for retrenchments, market prices were not exceptionally low.

He said: "Current diamond prices compare very favourably with those recorded in the first half of 2008. But October was an exceptionally good month for diamond prices and cannot really be used as a benchmark for prices in general.

"In this country another problem is that diamond mining is concentrated in Northern Cape and these retrenchments will affect the community badly since there aren't other opportunities," he said.

According to retrenchment notices sent to Solidarity by Rockwell Diamonds, which mines alluvial diamonds in Northern Cape, the miner plans to retrench almost 55percent of its estimated 640 employees.

Sandstraat Eksplorasie, a diamond exploration company in Northern Cape, plans to retrench about 78 people - nearly two thirds of its workforce.

Diamond Core Mining and Explorations also informed the union of its plans to retrench all 59 of its staff members due to overhead costs at the company.