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100 fear for jobs at Kayerekera

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By Mandy Pondani:

About 100 employees for Paladin Energy Limited-owned Kayerekera Uranium Mine in Karonga District fear for their jobs.

The employees are afraid following the company’s decision to sell 85 percent of its stakes, of which 65 percent will be taken by Hylea Metals.

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The Malawian employees survived the chop when the company laid off many workers in 2014 after it was placed on Care and maintenance following a decline in uranium prices on the global market.

Some of the workers said Paladin and Hylea have not announced anything regarding their employment following the new venture.

One of the employees, Kedrick Nyirenda, said they were worried of their terminal benefits should the new investor decide not to take them on board.

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“We are close to 100 people who have been around taking care of business at the mine since it was put on care and maintenance. We were told that the acquisition by Hylea Metals would take a maximum of four months but no communication was made as regards people’s jobs. This is worrisome,” he said.

Malawi Employment Act states that if there is no arrangement for handover of employees, the employer terminates contracts of employment following procedures such as giving due notice and payment of terminal benefits.

Kayerekera Uranium Mine General Manager, Mike Hoey, referred The Daily Times to Paladin headquarters in Perth, Australia.

“…as per Paladin company policy, all enquiries must be routed through our parent company, Paladin Energy in Perth,” Hoey said in an e-mailed response.

Our questionnaire to Hylea Metals has not yet been responded to.

Asked on what the government has in the pipeline to protect the Malawian workers as the Paladin and Hylea Metals’ deal takes off, Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Ministry spokesperson, Sangwani Phiri, said he could not comment much on the matter.

Government holds 15 percent of shares in the mine.

“[The] Government is yet to make its decision to accept the sale or otherwise. Currently, there is financial and technical analysis by a team of experts. Once the analysis is done, the public will be informed. Some of the factors in the analysis include issue of people’s jobs,” Phiri said.

Meanwhile, Natural Resources Justice Network in Malawi Chairperson, Kossam Munthali, has since warned against unjust treatment of workers saying Paladin should follow what the law stipulates on contract termination.

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