via SA investor offers job lifeline to retrenched Zimasco workers – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 13, 2016
HOPE has been rekindled for former Zimasco workers who were laid off last year, after a South African investor, Portnex International, offered nearly most of them fresh contracts ahead of reopening of three chrome smelting furnaces.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Portnex International entered into a $12 million five-year lease deal with Zimasco which will see the South Africans lease three furnaces from the former chrome smelting giant.
The deal was supposed to see the South Africans start smelting on one furnace by February before getting the other two up and running by next month.
Managing director Frikie Laubscher said commissioning of the first furnace had been delayed due to ongoing maintenance work.
“Maintenance work on the furnaces was started the same week as the signing of the contract. Work is still ongoing due to the fact that the plant was not running for 14 months.”
“We plan to test all systems and look for teething problems this week to commission soon after. All raw materials needed for start-up and running of the plant has been moved to site,” he said.
Laubscher said his company would employ up to 600 people mainly those who were let go by Zimasco when it retrenched 645 of its workers last October in cost-cutting measures.
“The operation at West plant will directly and including contractors on site employ 600 people with further job creation in peripheral services. This number excludes the people employed on all the mining sites as well as the support of existing miners,” he said.
Currently Portnex International has taken 130 workers under its wings and will be looking to employ more as production ramps up.
“We have already employed 130 people for the maintenance and commissioning of the first furnace to ramp up to 200 employees excluding support services. Indirect employment (with contractors and outsourced work etc) has already commenced, creating additional employment,” Laubscher noted.
Portnex International said it would only bring a few employees from South Africa who were familiar with the new technology they will employ but would employ ex Zimasco staff on new contracts.
“We have made positions available to current Zimasco staff as first preference, and have employed quite a number of them as they are established locally and familiar, experienced and skilled with the plant and equipment at the site,” Laubscher said.
“However all employees start afresh as employees of Portnex’s local subsidiary, any legacy debts and liabilities remain with Zimasco.”