The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has vowed to fight retrenchments at Petra Diamonds’ Helam mine in North West, the union said on Tuesday. 

Petra Diamonds’ Corporate Communications spokesperson, Cornelia Browne tells Mining News that the Helam mine, which may be put on care and maintenance, is under business review.

Care and maintenance

Petra Diamonds announced in its recent trading update on 28 July 2014 and in the guidance update, published on 18 August 2014, that it is currently in discussions with employee representatives, following a recent business review of the Helam mine, as to the future of the operation.

Browne noted in a company statement that this may include putting the operation on care and maintenance.

NUM has reacted to the decision saying it will fight tooth and nail to make sure that the anticipated retrenchments do not happen, said its chief negotiator Lekhotla Mabea, according to a SAPA report.

Mabea said the company was planning to retrench 370 employees.

Consultative process

Asked about the purported retrenchment of employees at the Helam mine, Brown said Petra Diamonds will undertake a consultative process with all parties.

Petra Diamonds’ general support manager Egbert Klapwijk said the company has been in negotiations with all relevant trade unions for about three months, according to media reports.

The mine in Swartruggens in the North West Province had 421 permanent employees, of which 253 were NUM members, said Mabea.

MPRDA non-compliance

Mabea said the company had not complied with the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA).

“The MPRDA states that if the company anticipates to retrench 10% or more employees it has to inform the minister of minerals resources.”

He said the NUM called on Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi to intervene.