B2Gold set to retrench workers…as mine closes

Niël Terblanché

The poor production of gold because of a limited mineral resource has caused the B2Gold to commence with a phased mine closure at its Otjikoto Mine near Otavi which will, unfortunately, affect a majority of mining and office staff.

In a memo distributed by the top management of the company, the mine has been experiencing some uncertainty about the future of the Otjikoto Mine for several months already.

“Despite our best efforts, B2Gold Namibia must commence with a phased mine closure process which will affect the mine site and Windhoek office staff,” Eric Barnard, the General Manager of the Otjikoto Mine and the B2Gold Country Manager, John Roos stated in the memo.

The Manager said that unless a significant open pit discovery or extension to the underground reserves is discovered, full mining operations in the open pit will end this year.

The memo indicated that processing and milling of low-grade stockpiles will continue until approximately 2031 provided that this activity is proven to be economically viable.

“B2Gold remains committed to the Otjikoto Mine and continues to invest a considerable amount of money in exploration activities around the mine, with the hopes that the project’s life can be extended,” the memo reads.

The Managers stated that they will have continuous, transparent, and ongoing communication with their respective departments.

“Employees will be informed of the plans and critical timelines for the mine. They will be provided with accurate information on payouts and notice periods, including their rights and any other relevant entitlements,” they said.

The memo states that the workforce reduction plan is based on a ramp-down schedule which was finalised in 2022. This schedule will continue to be updated regularly.

An employee roadshow took place from 11 to 12 April 2023. The purpose of the roadshow was to share the memo’s information and to respond to questions employees might have.

The management in their memo did not reveal the number of workers that will be affected by the gradual mine closure because the process is yet to be finalised.

The retrenchment criteria was also not made available because consultations with the unions representing the workers have also not been finalised.

The Managers stated that the company is committed to negotiating in good faith and being transparent with its communication and will share the agreement once it has been finalised

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