Former BCL Mine and BOTASH Managing Director Montwedi Mphathi has become the first Motswana to show interest in reviving the once thriving BCL Mine and the Selibe Phikwe town.
The Patriot on Sunday has unearthed information which shows that Mphathi has partnered with a Canadian company and they are one of the four companies which has shown interest in the BCL Mine.
When approach for a comment, Mphathi referred this publication to government indicating that he cannot comment about the sale of the BCL Mine.
“Government or the liquidator are best placed to comment about those interested in the mine not me,” he answered refusing to state if indeed he has shown interest in the mine.
Sources have revealed that Mphathi and his partners, a Canadian company has already started the due process and are optimistic about acquiring the copper nickel mine.
Should they acquire the BCL Mine, Mphathi who has been credited for reviving the fortunes of BCL Mine in the past is expected to lead the transformation of the company.
Mphathi who is known as the iron fist manager was the first citizen to become general manager of BCL in February 2003.
When he took over, the copper nickel mine was struggling and depending on government for funding but managed to turn around leading to the state owned mining company paying government P400 million emergency fund borrowed from government in 2000/01.
When he took over the BCL Mine the copper/nickel prices were as low as 1.5 USD/lb managed to steer the BCL ship then through the world prices glut, and subsequent fluctuations until the price recovery of 2010 when they reached their highest price of 9.1 USD/lb in December of that year.
A very controversial miner, Mphathi left the BCL Mine under dubious circumstances and joined the struggling Botash mine in Sowa Town. He managed to turn the sole soda ash miner in Southern Africa and one of the largest on the continent before he was shown the door. Mphathi has been touted as one of the top contenders for the plumb job at Debswana but sources have indicated that his eyes are on BCL Mine.
Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Lefoko Moagi confirmed that there are three companies which have shown interest in the acquisition of BCL mine assets but refused to reveal their names and directors.
Early this year, BCL liquidator Trevor Glaum revealed that he is continuing to liaise with several investors interested in buying BCL assets, adding that to date four interested parties had signed letters of consent. He said by the end of this year buyers should have been determined failing which the mine would not be sold as a whole as desired, but in different parts.
Before being liquidated, BCL management had developed a diversification strategy known as POLARIS II, whose implementation has components that are said to be valuable and could be commercially viable on acquisition.
The copper nickel company had a joint venture with Botswana Metals Limited and have three prospecting licences at Maibele (PL110/94, PL 111/94 and PL 54/98). The exploration resulted in three discoveries of Nickel-Copper and Copper-Silver mineralisation known as Airstrip Copper. BCL which also owns Tati Nickel Mine has Selkirk Nickel mine situated near Francistown which has a value of P1.4 billion over a 6-10 years lifespan and the Maibele Nickel prospect with value of P1.9 billion.
Addressing a special session of Parliament to consider ammendments to Covid-19 regulations last week, Selebi Phikwe West MP, Dithapelo Keorapetse said Phikwe economy suffered a devastation as a result of BCL closure, and COVID-19 finished what’s left of the economy.
He said in the last four years the Phikwe economy has been in a very bad shape and whatever COVID-19 rules that are introduced, government must be mindful of this fact. He said such regulations should be cost effective, otherwise there is a big chance of closing many more businesses and creating more unemployment problem. He advised that SMMEs be prioritised as they create more jobs collectively than big corporations.
He demanded that food distribution be fast tracked because people are dying of hunger. In addition, he called for inclusion of sanitary pads in the relief basket, which he said is very important to support the girl child.
Keorapetse also complained that workers in different sectors are being exploited under the guise of COVID-19 fight, where dismissals, cancelation of contracts, non-renewal of contracts, stealing or forfeiture of leave days, withdrawal of wages including payments of % of salaries (not full) and many other things continue unabated with deleterious impact on employees.