The company, owned by Eurasian Resources Group, plans to shed 996 jobs at its Boss Mining unit and 1 300 at Congo Cobalt Corporation (CCC) in the country’s copper-rich southeast, said Dieudonne Shimbi, the provincial coordinator for TUMEC, one of the unions negotiating on behalf of the workers.
CCC is wholly-owned by ENRC, which has a 70% stake in Boss Mining. Congo state miner Gecamines holds the remaining 30%. ENRC did not respond to requests for comment.
Shimbi said that an initial phase of buyouts had started on Monday. He added the company would begin lay-offs within a month if enough of Boss Mining’s more than 4 000 and CCC’s 1 700 workers do not leave voluntarily.
“Based on where the price of copper is today, the employer justified that it was practically operating at a loss,” Shimbi said.
The benchmark copper price fell 25% last year on declining demand from top industrial metals consumer China. It has recovered slightly this year, closing on Wednesday at $4,792 a tonne, the highest level since Nov. 16.
Congo, Africa’s largest copper producer, saw output dip modestly in 2015, according to the country’s chamber of mines, due to slumping prices and the 18-month suspension of production at Glencore’s Katanga Unit, announced in September.
Congo’s economy is heavily dependent on the extractive industries, which account for some 98% of the country’s export revenues.