Mineworkers Union condemns mining deaths

Ester Mbathera

The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) has condemned recent fatal accidents at the Xinfeng Lithium Mine and the Rössing Uranium Mine.

The union secretary general, George Ampweya, labelled the fatalities as preventable tragedies stemming from deplorable safety standards and inadequate oversight.

Both incidents took place in the Erongo Region, casting a spotlight on the issue of workplace safety in the mining sector.

“The safety and well-being of workers remain a top priority, and it is disheartening to witness the lax enforcement of safety regulations that leave employees vulnerable to life-threatening risks. Workers should not have to sacrifice their lives for the sake of profit-driven negligence,” he said.

Ampweya alleges that high-ranking government officials are colluding with investors to bypass safety procedures.

The MUN is demanding stringent measures to prevent future tragedies.

“The MUN urges the government to take immediate action to strengthen oversight mechanisms, increase enforcement of safety regulations and hold responsible those who prioritise profits over the safety of workers. Workers deserve a safe and secure environment in which to earn their livelihoods,” said Ampweya.

Gerson Nauyoma, who was a part of the Xinfeng management at Xinfeng, passed away last Tuesday in a Swakopmund hospital.

It is not clear whether his death is related to mining activities because the Xinfeng Plant is currently only doing the concentrate processing stage and not chemical processing.

According to a company statement, Nayoma, who joined the company in February, was responsible for transporting minerals and determining the volume of minerals in the plant.

The company refuted claims that he was not part of the crushing unit, as per the information that appeared on social media sites.

“Nauyoma, along with other staff members, left the premises of the mine on Thursday 23. They did so in line with accepted protocols following payday, which was on Thursday. He left for Swakopmund and upon our investigation, we believe this is where he complained about not feeling well,” reads the statement.

The company stated that the medical documents state Nauyoma’s cause of death, and it is still up to the family to decide whether to disclose this information.

The company explained that it has deployed the highest technology in dust suppression, which was also one of the requirements for obtaining the Environmental Clearance Certificate.

Xinfeng entered Namibia in 2022 and operates the lithium mine near Uis.

On 15 May Unotjari Kaurimba, an employee of one of the contractor’s sub-contractors for the 18 MW solar PV power plant construction site, died on duty.

He was a forklift operator for the contractor company XYZ.

He was next to the forklift at the time of the incident, supporting a colleague when a box containing solar panels on the forklift shook while in movement as a result of the uneven surface, causing the box to fall on him.

He succumbed to injuries at the scene.

The police investigation into the matter is still ongoing.

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