BCL’s last hope extinguished

Kabelo Adamson

Any lingering hopes over the possible revival of BCL mine were dashed this week after President Mokgweetsi Masisi did not touch on the subject during his State of the Nation Address (SONA).

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On Monday afternoon, Masisi delivered his second SONA since ascending to the presidency.

One of the highly anticipated issues was the potential re-opening of the Selibe Phikwe-based mine, which has laid dormant for over three years now.

A day after Masisi’s 73-page SONA speech, BCL assets, mostly vehicles were, auctioned to the public in Phikwe, a move which all but killed any hopes of its re-opening.

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In his brief remarks on BCL, Masisi revealed the task team set up to carry out an evaluation to delineate the company’s assets completed their work at the end of June this year.

He explained the report has since been submitted to the new liquidators to consider the findings and facilitate decision making on the next stage.

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“Since taking over the liquidation process in August this year, the new liquidator has given seven companies permission to carry out due diligence reviews on BCL and Tati Mining assets, to inform themselves if they can invest in the assets,” said Masisi.

He described the process as a ‘delicate and complex exercise’ that will take time to evaluate and implement.

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BCL was shut down in October 2016 – news that was delivered by Masisi himself – and placed under provisional liquidation before it was placed under final liquidation in June 2017.

In February this year, Tati Nickel Mine was also placed under final liquidation.

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The exercise has proved to be extremely costly, with government still pumping funds into the process.

Indeed, prior to the closure of the eleventh parliament, former Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Eric Molale announced that the liquidation process has gobbled a massive P965 million from government coffers.

This amount, Molale stressed, did not include loans and advances by government to settle employees’ benefits and utilities.

Before he left his role as the BCL liquidator, Nigel Dixon-Warren told Voice Money the whole liquidation process is likely to for on for the next decade. He further brushed aside any possibility of the mine re-opening.

Government also has a pending court case against the Russian mining giant Norilsk before the London Court of International Arbitration regarding the cancellation of a contract over the purchase of Nkomati Nickel Mine in South Africa.

As a result, the Russians are demanding a US$271 million claim against Government of Botswana over the botched deal.

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