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Namibia Chamber Sees New Mines Filling Jobs Cut by Glencore, Rio

New mines being developed in Namibia will create more than 3,000 jobs over the next three years, helping to offset staff losses at Glencore Plc and Rio Tinto Group’s local operations, an industry lobby said.

Glencore cut about 124 full-time positions at its Rosh Pinah zinc and lead mine last month, while Rio lost 265 jobs at its Rossing uranium site because of weaker demand for the mineral processed into fuel for nuclear power plants. The workers would be absorbed at mines being built by China General Nuclear Power Holding Corp., B2Gold Corp. and Weatherly International Plc, Chamber of Mines Chief Executive Officer Veston Malango said by phone today.

“We know the workers are skilled and experienced and the three new investments will create more than 3,000 new permanent jobs; they should be able to absorb them,” he said.

B2Gold’s Otjikoto gold mine in northern Namibia, which is expected to start commercial production in the fourth quarter, will create around 600 permanent jobs, Malango said. Weatherly’s Tschudi copper project, which will start production of LME-grade copper cathode in 2015, will add 500 positions while China General Nuclear’s Husab uranium mine will have more than 2,000 permanent employees when it attains full production in about 2017, Malango said.

The southwest African nation’s mining industry had 7,582 permanent employees, 909 temporary workers and 8,218 contractors last year, the chamber said in its annual report. Namibia is the world’s largest producer of offshore diamonds and the fourth-biggest miner of uranium.

Mining companies in Namibia face a shortage of locals with skills and experience in highly technical areas such as engineering and geological exploration, Malango said.

“The big challenge is experienced engineers who can take up managerial and other highly technical positions in the entire mining chain,” Malango said. “We have enough artisans coming from local colleges and that area is fairly covered. When it comes to experience in areas such as engineering, mining companies are struggling to get the skills.”

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