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NC mining company seeks ‘smart restart’

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Jahn Hohne, CEO for the Ekapa Group, said the focus is now on thorough planning and consultation involving different stakeholders to start the process of ramping up mining activity in a responsible way.

KIMBERLEY Ekapa Mining (KEM-JV) is working with different stakeholders, including consultation with represented trade unions, to finalise planning for the ‘restart’.

The company said in a statement on Thursday that it was focussed on ensuring a positive restart for the sake of everyone dependent on the mines for their livelihood, following the directive by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy that all mining operations in South Africa may ramp up to 50% labour compliment capacity.

All production at the KEM-JV mines was stopped to comply with the national Covid-19 lockdown. Only essential services continued under the exemption of Care and Maintenance to prevent long-term damage to the mines and to ensure that production could commence once the lockdown is lifted.

According to Jahn Hohne, CEO for the Ekapa Group, the focus is now on thorough planning and consultation involving different stakeholders to start the process of ramping up mining activity in a responsible way. 

“The objective of the smart restart business model is to continue to support the government in its effort to flatten the coronavirus infection curve while ensuring the safety of our people, as and when they come back to work, with all the required and necessary procedures and protocols in place,” said Hohne.

He added that the smart restart business model was also focussed on allowing the company to survive the market impact. “Therefore there is continued severe preservation of limited available cash for the several months now ahead leading up to the first post virus diamond tender sale.”

Hohne repeated that in a business where the labour cost is half of the operating costs, it was obvious that salaries and wages would have to be carefully considered for the successful short- and medium-term survival of the company. 

“Executives and senior management have taken a voluntary 33% reduction of salary to be used in a recovery fund. A salary reduction of 33%, to be paid back with the earliest next distributable profits, is implemented for those employees working on a C-band job grade level. No reduction in salary is currently implemented for working employees on B-band and A-band job grades.” 

The company has applied to the Covid-19 Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (TERS) for UIF payment for all those employees who have been temporarily laid off. 

“The company is working with different stakeholders, including consultation with represented trade unions, to finalise planning for the restart before implementation of the ramp-up can commence,” Hohne added. 

“We are amid the biggest disruption in our living memory, requiring an unprecedented team effort including all of our people. We thank each employee, those at work and those who cannot work now, for standing together to protect our people and the company during this difficult time, and to unilaterally keep themselves and their families safe at all times.” Hohne stated