Dundee braces itself for an economic dilemma

Dundee is facing it’s biggest economic meltdown since the closure of Royal Beechnut, Consol and Alucab, following the announcement that Magdalena Mine is to ‘most likely’ close at the end of October.
Buffalo Coal said last week that with contractors, STA, not renewing their contract to continue mining at Magdalena, the decision had been made to close the operation.
The company’s Aviemore Colliery and the Coalfields Washing Plant will continue with operations.
Kevern Mattison, Buffalo Coal’s general manager, said around 500 workers – from both STA and Buffalo Coal – will ‘most probably lose their jobs’. “The affected workers have been given Section 189 notices (intention to retrench) in terms of labour law.”

There have been two recent gas ignitions and the mine now has the highest rating of gas emission rate of all working mines in the country. 

Mr Mattison said the decision to close Magdalena is ‘deeply regrettable’. Even more devastating for both Dundee and Dannhauser are the spin-off effects for businesses that rely on Magdalena for their survival in already fragile economic times.
“Magdalena spends around R7-million a month locally on consumables at mainly local businesses and with sub-contractors. So the impact will be felt far and wide. New Social and Labour Plans in the Dannhauser area (Magdalena falls just in the Dannhauser municipal boundary), such as crèches, community gardens (the mine has assisted with developing many already in the area) and plans to build a sports stadium in the Sleeve Donald area, will also be affected.”

 

 

Buffalo Coal general manager. Kevern Mattison

He said the decision to close was three-fold “Geological conditions at Magdalena are difficult with roofing issues and dykes to contend with, but this is what we have become used to.
“However, compounded by other factors – the increase in the liberation of methane gas as we continue to mine underground and labour issues – have contrived to force Buffalo Coal to make this decision.”
Previously, methane gas was not an issue at Magdalena but as mining has gone into new areas this has become an increased safety factor.
There have been two recent gas ignitions and the mine now has the highest rating of gas emission rate of all working mines in the country.
However, Mr Mattison said labour issues were the single biggest factor.
“For the past year, we have seen production tumble to around 45 000 tonnes a month when we should be doing around 72 000 tonnes. Production time has dropped as we have seen by monitoring the activity on the underground machines. Around 15 metres an hour should be processed while we are seeing only 3-5 metres currently. This means the mine’s productivity is not economically viable.”

  AUTHOR
T Worley

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