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NC miners down tools over salaries

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Mineworkers had downed tools on Monday and had been waiting since then to be addressed by a representative of the company

Picture: File photo supplied/SAPS

MORE than 460 mineworkers at Sedibeng Diamond Mine at Bellsbank, 110km outside of Kimberley, have embarked on protest action.

According to a worker at the mine, employees have not been paid their salaries for December or January and were only paid 40% of their salaries for October and November last year.

He added that they believed that the mine, owned by Frontier Diamonds, was facing bankruptcy and that the owners were keeping the financial statements from the workers.

According to the worker, employees had been promised that their December salaries would be paid on January 14.

“The mine should have resumed operations on January 7 after the Christmas break, but this was extended to the 14th and then again to the 21st,” the worker said.

He added that mineworkers had downed tools on Monday and had been waiting since then to be addressed by a representative of the company.

“Both the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) are on the scene, as well as the police, and have tried to get a representative of the company to address the workers.”

Yesterday there was a heavy police presence at the front entrance to the mine, where the workers had gathered.

Police spokesperson Captain Mashay Gamieldien said that members of the Kimberley Public Order Policing unit, Boetsap SAPS and officers from the Frances Baard cluster office were yesterday monitoring the mine in the Boetsap farming district.

“Approximately 400 workers are dissatisfied about their salaries and has restricted the manager of the mine to move around freely on the premises or to leave the premises. The police are currently negotiating with the workers. No incidents have been reported and police are monitoring the situation,” she said.

In March last year, it was reported that Frontier Diamonds, which started trading on the ASX in January, had recovered the first diamonds from its Bellsbank kimberlite pipe exploration project, near its Sedibeng diamond mine.

According to a report in Creamer Media’s Engineering News, the diamonds were recovered from a sample that was treated as part of the hot commissioning of a tailings treatment plant, which Frontier purchased from a local dump retreatment operator. The capital investment of the refurbished plant was about $1.2 million.

The biggest stone recovered from the sample, which was taken from the upper levels of the calcretised kimberlite facies of the pipe, was 1.45ct.

Located at the Sedibeng mine, near Delportshoop, it was stated that the plant would be used as a batch treatment plant for bulk samples from the Bellsbank project, as well as other regional exploration targets, as well as a concentrate retreatment plant to process available tailings material from the Sedibeng mine.

The plant will process about 30 000t/m of bulk sample material or 90 000t/m of Sedibeng tailings material.

Besides the Sedibeng mine and Bellsbank development project, Frontier also owns the Star Diamond mine near Theunissen in the Free State. Frontier’s South African subsidiary, Sedi Diamonds, acquired the operating mines from London-listed Petra Diamonds in 2014.

Attempts to contact the owners of the mine yesterday for comment were unsuccessful.

– Staff Reporter