Namib Mills will close down its Katima Mulilo mill from September 31 due to what the company terms are “business operational requirements”.
In a statement released yesterday, Ian Collard, Chief Executive Officer at Namib Mills, said the mill’s production volume has dropped significantly and consistently over the years, and the drop in volume unfortunately does not justify the expense of keeping the mill operational.
“The closing of the mill unfortunately will result in 15 employees being relieved of their duties. These retrenched employees will all be fairly compensated and given excellent referrals to assist them to secure subsequent employment alternatives, as per legislation, and those who can possibly be absorbed in other positions or other branches of Namib Mills will be accommodated,” said Collard.
In 2013 the Katima Mulilo mill produced 5017 tons; in 2014 – 1460 tons and in 2015 the mill’s production dropped to 343 tons. Furthermore, the company’s projections indicate that production will not improve in the near future and will continue to drop. “Due to technological limitations the Katima maize mill is only capable of producing special sifted and unsifted maize meal, whereas Namib Mills’ maize meal market in the Zambezi Region consists of 89 percent super maize meal, and only 11 percent focusses on special and unsifted maize meal,” explained Collard.
Collard emphasised that all the correct procedures will be followed by the company and that the closure of the facility is a last resort, as all other possible options have been considered and were found to be impractical.
“This decision is based on the well-being of the business and the other employees and unfortunately could not be avoided. The process was already postponed for two years in anticipation of better volumes; and [the costs] to upgrade the mill to facilitate the milling of super maize meal i.e. Top Score, would be enormous.”
He added that Namib Mills is however committed to Namibia and therefore will still be keeping its Zambezi depot operational. He said the company will continue to support the region’s small-scale local farmers through the purchase of local maize and mahangu grain.
“The maize and mahangu will be taken in at Otavi mill door prices not to disadvantage local producers and Namib Mills will transport the maize for these farmers without any cost to them.
“The functions of the Katima Mulilo depot will still include servicing, allowing for local products to remain readily available and supply the market,” Collard said.