Namibia’s Roessing uranium mine to slash jobs

The Roessing uranium mine in Namibia, a unit of British mining giant Rio Tinto, said Friday it plans to cut 17 percent of its workforce due to slowing demand for nuclear fuel.

The world's third largest producer of uranium oxide, Roessing said some 276 of 1,592 permanent jobs are to be cut.

As with many other uranium producers, Roessing is buckling under low metal prices and reduced demand, the company’s managing director Chris Salisbury told reporters.

"Since the Japanese tsunami in 2011, uranium demand has remained depressed and the uranium price has fallen by more than 36 percent," he said.

Japan shut down its nuclear power plants after the tsunami destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant, and a number of other countries including Germany have also signalled they plan to reduce or phase out their facilities.

"With the utility sector in Japan essentially shutdown, there is little prospect of a turnaround in the near term," he added.

At the same time electricity and water costs have gone up.

The company resisted the need to cut jobs at the mine for as long as possible, but "regrettably there is now no alternative," Salisbury said.

Roessing Uranium Limited is owned 68.6 percent by British mining giant Rio Tinto and is one of two operating uranium mines in Namibia.