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Australian uranium mining company Paladin in trouble in Namibia, as well as in Malawi

Some of the issues pertain to female worker’s miscarriages; [CEO] Duvenhage’s apparent failure to engage with the union; the company’s reluctance to give workers a “single cent” for an annual increment; unfair performance bonuses; nepotism and corruption.

Australian-based Paladin Energy Ltd. (TSE:PDN) owns 100% interest in the mine.

Protests hit second largest uranium mine in Namibia Vladimir Basov | July 2, 2013 About 300 workers, including mine staff and contractor employees, picketed at Langer Heinrich Uranium (LHU) mine last Thursday over pay and working conditions, The Namibian reported.

Workers and media were barred from the minesite where the demonstration was supposed to take place although the protesters had organized the peaceful demonstration at the beginning of last week and had announced it to the mine’s management.


As a result, all day shift buses were forced to stop inside the concession area where workers then had to disembark – about five kilometres away from the actual site. To their dismay, the protesters were forced to picket at the concession area. The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) branch executives felt that the mine’s management snubbed what it termed a legal and democratic action.

Werner Duvenhage LHU Managing Director (MD) was allegedly out of town but Hein Daiber, the mine’s Human Resources consultant, received the petition on behalf of the mine’s board of directors.

This protest follows another demonstration that was held two months ago during which a petition requesting the removal of Duvenhage was delivered.

Some of the issues pertain to female worker’s miscarriages; Duvenhage’s apparent failure to engage with the union; the company’s reluctance to give workers a “single cent” for an annual increment; unfair performance bonuses; nepotism and corruption.

“We demand that the interest of the marginalised workers of this mine must receive your urgent intervention,” the petition reads. “The interest of workers of LHU is overlooked and ignored intentionally with the purpose only known to the managing director Mr Werner Duvenhage. Different attempts to report this issue to different stakeholders has been exhausted, however, notwithstanding our endeavors to that extent, nothing has been addressed to this date.”

With 2,306 tonnes of uranium oxide produced in 2012, Langer Heinrich is the second largest uranium mine in Namibia, after Rössing.

Australian-based Paladin Energy Ltd. (TSE:PDN) owns 100% interest in the mine.


July 5, 2013 - Posted by | employment, Malawi, Uranium


  1. Radiation a danger to pregnant women – MUN

    Posted by Namib Times on June 28, 2013 at 11:35 in News

    ·Paulina Moses

    Concerns amongst mineworkers at Langer Heinrich Uranium (LHU) about the exposure of pregnant women to dangerous levels of radiation resulted in another heated demonstration at the mine yesterday.

    A petition was handed to the mine’s management team by representatives of the Mineworkers Union (MUN) on Thursday morning. The latest petition – the third in three months – was drafted in response to an incident whereby a female employee at the mine allegedly suffer-ed a miscarriage, which the MUN maintains was due to exposure to radiation.

    Mineworkers at LHU are concerned about the exposure of women to dangerous levels of radiation and protested yesterday over what they called “continuous maternal deaths” and against the alleged practice of allowing pregnant women on site, despite provisions in the Radiation and Atomic Act of 2005, which are specifically designed to protect women and their unborn children.

    Union representatives said that “investigations by government agencies are still underway”, but complained that their attempts to engage the mine’s management on the issue of exposure to radiation has produced no results yet. They alleged that “another maternal death occurred again recently”, in reference to a miscarriage experienced by a female worker at the mine.

    Against the backdrop of a long drawn-out struggle between union representatives and the mine’s management, Mr John Narib, chairman of the MUN Branch Executive Committee at LHU read the workers’ petition out loud and claimed that the interests of workers at LHU “are overlooked and ignored intentionally”. He directed his anger at LHU’s managing director, Mr Werner Duvenhage; the MUN had previously demanded the resignation of Mr Duvenhage, after Mr Narib was suspended from duty several weeks ago.

    LHU’s management dismissed the allegations, claiming that the union has undertaken a concerted campaign to discredit the mine. “Recently, the MUN Branch Executive Committee has embarked on a public campaign to try and discredit the policies and practices that Langer Heinrich Uranium applies with regard to the treatment of pregnant employees, through the media and through direct engagement with government,” said Mr Duvenhage in a written statement.

    Mr Duvenhage, who is also the chairman of the Chamber of Mines, added that “LHU has recently engaged the ser-vices of a well-respected Namibian lawyer, who confirmed that LHU’s policies on treating pregnant employees comply with all Namibian legislation. LHU also recently requested international radiation specialists to review the company’s policies and procedures. They have found the policies and procedures to comply with inter-national best practice and are therefore in line with the policies and practices at other uranium mines internationally.”

    Asked for comment on the issue of exposure to radiation, Dr Wotan Swiegers of the Uranium Institute – which is funded by the Chamber of Mines – said that it is essential that one does the necessary research before making such serious accusations. “When you accuse someone it is better to do research, because just like a rumour it is better to have the facts right before spreading it.”

    Dr Swiegers says that he is not taking sides in the dispute between the workers and the mine’s management: “My job is to make sure the mines have the right information with regard to dust and radiation. It is not my job to police the mines.”

    He explained that the international dose limit of radiation exposure is 20 millisievert (msv) per year, which is what mine workers are exposed to and for a citizen it is 1 msv per year. When a female mine worker falls pregnant the mine is required to shift the worker to a low-risk area, with no more than 1 msv of radiation exposure.

    “When a lady becomes pregnant she is advised to consult their supervisor that she is pregnant. The mine is then required to put her on another job with 1 msv and her pay is not allowed to be reduced. My job is to make sure the mine does that. The mine says that they followed the necessary procedures with regard to pregnant women. The National Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) also says the mine is doing well. As far as I know the NRPA has investigated the mine several times.”

    When a woman applies for a job at a mine, they should be aware of the risks, he said, adding that we are adults and must be aware of the dangers. He also explained that miscarriages among pregnant women may be due to a number of social and environmental factors, and that it is not easy to infer that the cause in all instances is related to exposure to dangerous levels of radiation.

    Dr Swiegers acknowledged the importance of the union and said that civil society organisations play a pivotal role, but he firmly believes that LHU has been following the right procedures. He further recommends that independent research should be conducted on the issue of miscarriages among pregnant women at the mine to get to the facts: “I recommend that they take all the cases (of miscarriages) and have an independent review con-ducted, with the per-mission of the patients.”

    The office of the National Radiation Protection Authority was contacted for comment, but the director is said to be out of the country at present.

    Comment by arclight2011part2 | July 5, 2013 | Reply

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