JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Forty-four people retrenched from the Shiva Uranium Mine in North West belonging to the Gupta company Oakbay have failed to receive expected December pay that formed part of an agreed retrenchment package, Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor Maritha Coetzee told Mining Weekly Online on Friday.
Coetzee said that payments expected before Christmas as part of a retrenchment agreement had not materialised and instead retrenched employees had received SMSs requesting them to wait until January for payment.
Many had, as a result, been left without money for Christmas and Coetzee has been unable to establish contact with Oakbay.
The DA councillor reported that the retrenched former employees were persuaded to sign nondisclosure agreements as part of their retrenchment package, which also precluded them from enlisting the help of the statutory Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
However, she viewed precluding those retrenched from seeking CCMA assistance as being unenforceable.
When Mining Weekly Online interviewed the company last year it had an employee complement of 700 people.
Shiva’s urban office was recently relocated to the mine in Hartbeesfontein, following altercations earlier this year, when 11 people were arrested for public violence and malicious damage to property in Tigane, near Klerksdorp, following a protest by a group of former Shiva employees over nonpayment after their retrenchment amounts.
Also a gold mining concern, Shiva last year reported a total gold resource of 5.2-million ounces and an estimated 16-year mine life, with potential to extend this to 100 years.
The company told Mining Weekly Online in an interview last year that Shiva’s exploration and mining operations were focused on Dominion group and West Rand group geology of the Witwatersrand basin.
At the time, the West Rand group’s gold section’s offering was in the process of being increased from 65 000 t/m run-of-mine (RoM), with overall processing capacity for the Dominion reef at 250 000 t/m RoM.
According to the company’s 2016 integrated annual report, the mine produced 377 kg of gold during the year with an average in situ gold grade of 1.1 g/t and a gold recovery rate of about 0.6 g/t.
The Oakbay Resources & Energy CEO at the time of the interview told Mining Weekly Online that he was happy with the then output from Shiva’s opencast gold mine, which was producing an average of 65 000 t/m of RoM feed.
The company was then aiming to get the mine’s carbon-in-leach (CIL) gold treatment plant as close as possible to its 120 000 t nameplate processing capacity.
The CIL plant has four mills, but only two were in operation at the time of the interview. The executive interviewed said that Shiva intended to bring a third mill on line by mid-October last year and to recommission the fourth mill by the end of 2016, to produce 90 000 t and 100 000 t of material on a consistent basis.
At that time, the company was also seeking to improve its gold recovery rate to between 0.7 g/t and 0.8 g/t.
While the company was mining the opencast section of Shiva’s outcropping gold-bearing reefs, underground gold-bearing orebodies were also being targeted when the underground mining of the uranium reefs commenced.
At the time, the mine had a uranium mineral resources of 196-million pounds of contained uranium oxide, with an average grade of 428 g/t and Shiva’s uranium operations were in a developmental phase, with the company updating a bankable feasibility study to take into account newly explored additional uranium mineral resources on the property.
Significant quantities of gold in the orebody meant that, while the uranium mills were under care and maintenance, Shiva continued to be profitable, which enabled it to continue employing more than 700 workers.
The viewpoint expressed was that, once uranium mining became commercially viable again, the uranium would be in high demand in the export market for countries’ power generation requirements.
At the time, Shiva had a stockpile of 120 000 t of uranium.