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Mowana Copper Mine financial woes deepen

LEBOGANG MOSIKARE
Mowana Copper Mine PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
FRANCISTOWN: Who is fooling who at the Mowana Copper Mine (MCM) is a question asked by many as the junior miner’s financial woes deepen.

The problem of paying workers their salaries in full and on time deepened further as the mine claimed to have paid its workers their October salaries towards the end of November.

The fact is disputed by the miners as they also counter claimed to be still waiting for 70% of their salaries from last month.

Last month, MCM, which is now owned by Cradle Arc, an entity that is listed in the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in London, also paid its workers their September salaries on October 17.

The move left a bitter pill to swallow in the mouths of the workers who ended up speculating that their futures were bleak because the mine may cease to operate in the not so distant future because of financial problems.

The uncertainty arose after MCM paid the workers their remaining balance of 70% September salaries on October 17.

However, the mine’s general manager, Dominic Doherty moved swiftly to allay those fears.

Doherty said that the mine was just experiencing some temporary teething problems, which will not in, anyway force it to close soon. Doherty said MCM was aiming to increase its production tonnage from 12,000 to 22,000 tonnes per year because of favourable copper prices.

However, it looks like there is no end in sight for the salary problem besieging MCM. An MCM employee who spoke to Mmegi on condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals from his employers denied that company has as of yesterday (Thursday) finished paying the employees their remaining 70%  of October salaries.

The employee told Mmegi on condition of anonimity that the workers were invited to a meeting on

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Monday where they were told that their salaries will be credited into their accounts on Wednesday, but that did not happen. “Even today (on Thursday) as I am speaking to you, we have not received anything. We are wondering if the mine will timely pay us our full November salaries since it is almost month end. The failure to pay us fully on time has complicated our lives. We are failing to meet our various obligations,” he said dejectedly.

The worker’s claim contradicted Doherty comment he later told Mmegi on Thursday.

Although Doherty admitted that MCM still partly owed its workers their October salaries, he nonetheless stated that the mine has started to pay the workers.

He stated that some employees started receiving their salaries on Thursday while the rest would be paid as the day progresses.

“Yes there have been some delays in paying the workers their October salaries. The delays were caused by service cashflow constraints. However, the workers have started receiving their salaries from today and we expect to pay all of them as the day progresses,” said Doherty.

Asked if MCM will be able to pay the workers their November salaries on time because it is almost month end, Doherty responded: “There is nothing that suggests that we would not be able to pay.”

Quizzed whether a transporter who was hired by MCM to ferry workers to the mine’s premises has also stopped to offer the service because he has not been paid, Doherty said: “I am not aware of that. I can’t comment on that.”



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