New mining operations in Namibia will generate more than 3,000 jobs through 2018, offsetting Glencore Plc and Rio Tinto operational losses, according to the CEO of the Chamber of Mines; the arid, geologically rich Southwest African nation hosts some of the world’s greatest uranium and offshore diamond reserves.
These workers, said Chamber CEO Veston Malango, will be absorbed into mines under construction by the China General Nuclear Power Holding Corp., B2Gold Corp. and Weatherly International Plc. In June, Glencore slashed 124 full-time positions at its Rosh Pinah zinc and lead mine; No. 2 miner Rio Tinto lost 265 jobs at its Rossing uranium site.
“We know the workers are skilled and experienced and the three new investments will create more than 3,000 new permanent jobs,” Malango told Bloomberg this week; as of 2013, Namibia’s mining sector represented 7,582 permanent workers, 909 temporary employees and 8,218 contractors, according to the chamber’s annual report.
B2Gold’s Otjikoto mine in north Namibia, pending Q4 commercial production, will generate some 600 jobs, while Weatherly’s Tschudi copper cathode project will employ 500 more workers by 2015, Malango added; China General Nuclear’s Husab uranium mine, meanwhile, will staff more than 2,000 on full production in 2017.
Nonetheless, while mining is a key driver of the Namibian economy, its workers often lack skills in engineering and exploration. “The big challenge is engineers who can take up managerial and highly technical positions in the entire mining chain,” Malango added. “We have artisans from local colleges,” but “when it comes to engineering, mining companies are struggling to get the skills.”