Falling uranium demand and prices due to the Fukushima accident, as well as increasing costs of electricity and water, have caused Rössing Uranium to reduce its workforce by 276.
The company which operates the Rössing mine in Namibia is a subsidiary of Rio Tinto. It notes the mine as being the third-largest producer of uranium oxide in the world, as well as the longest-running open pit uranium mine. It is aiming to remove some 21 management roles, 25 professional roles, 28 supervisory roles and 202 operational and maintenance roles in order to help return to profitability.
Announcement of the restructuring follows an operational loss of NAD474 million ($52.2 million) for 2012 - its second major loss in two years. Job shedding had been resisted for as long as possible but the worsening global situation finally made it inevitable, said the company.
The Fukushima accident in 2011 led to the permanent shutdown of eight reactors in Germany and the idling of 50 operational reactors in Japan which now await the publishing of new safety requirements before they can apply to restart. As of today there are 437 operational power reactors in the world - a figure which includes the Japanese fleet.
According to the company the uranium price has dropped by more than 36% since the accident with no clear recovery expected in the near term. Adding to this are increased costs for mining inputs such as electricity and water, as well as factors affecting ore grade and external cost pressures. A 26% increase in production and improved operational efficiency which cut unit production cost by 31% have not proven sufficeint to avoid job losses.
Management has communicated the situation to staff and will enter into negotiations immediately. They have promised to support workers and their families and will make "every effort" to ensure that the impacts are minimal.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News