Rio Tinto’s Rossing Uranium Mine in Namibia to Cut 276 Jobs

Rossing Uranium, a unit of Rio Tinto Plc, says it will cut 276 jobs after two years of losses after a 2011 tsunami in Japan that reduced demand for the metal.

“Since the Japanese tsunami, demand has remained depressed and the uranium price has fallen by more than 36 percent,” Managing Director Chris Salisbury said in a statement e-mailed from Swakopmund in Namibia, about 70km west of the mine.

Japan relied on atomic power for about a third of its energy requirements until the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, which was hit by a magnitude 9 earthquake and a 15-meter tsunami on March 11, 2011.

For the year to December 2012, Rossing incurred its second consecutive operating loss of 474 million Namibian dollars ($53 million) after a 465 million Namibian dollar loss the year before, Rossing said. The operation isn’t generating positive cash flow even as output rose 26 percent 2,699 metric tons, he said.

Rio Tinto, the world’s second biggest mining company, announced its first annual loss after taking a $14 billion writedown on the value of its aluminum and coal assets. The asset impairments cost Chief Executive Officer Tom Albanese his job, and that of head of strategy Doug Ritchie.