While people of Selebi-Phikwe are reeling from unexplainable tremors that rock the town, leaving their houses with growing cracks – Government has been pumping millions of Pula into a liquidation of BCL mine that carries no promise of improving their lives.
Government has spent a whooping P956 million on the liquidation of defunct BCL mine – which stood as Phikwe’s main source of economic activity having employed over 4000 people.
Nigel Dixon-Warren – the initial liquidator – has since left and been replaced by liquidators from Sanek Trust Recovery Services from South Africa.
The Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Eric Molale, revealed this when answering question in the just ended eleventh Parliament session.
Following the closure of BCL mine in 2016, government took the decision to put BCL under final liquidation in June 2017 and decided again in February 2019 to place Tati Nickel also under final liquidation.
Dithapelo Keorapetse, Selebi-Phikwe West MP, had asked the minister to state the implications and circumstances concerning the departure of Nigel Dixon-Warren as BCL liquidator.
Keorapetse challenged Mnister Molale to appraise the house on the role of the newly appointed liquidators, being Trevor Glaum, Stephen Gore and Moodliar Sivalutchmee from Sanek Trust Recovery Services in South Africa.
He also asked on the terms of references of new liquidators, past liquidation costs and future anticipated costs.
Molale said the previous BCL liquidator costs government P956 million, with the amount being drawn from the interim liquidation and distribution accounts by the liquidator.
According to Molale, the amount excluded loans advanced by government to settle employees’ dues amongst others the terminal benefits and utilities. He asked government to determine whether public funds have not been misspent.
Keorapetse accused Molale for misleading the nation on BCL mine during the previous Parliament session pertaining to the final BCL mine liquidation task.
He expressed displeasure over the now defunct liquidation process, saying the minister once told Parliament that the final liquidation of BCL mine will be concluded by June this year.
Keorapetse’s motion on re-prioritising the opening of the BCL mine was defeated.
In addition, Keorapetse berated government for choosing to spend huge sums of money on the liquidator instead of proceeding to re-open the mine.
Molale, Liquidator feud
Though Molale insisted he did not push away the liquidator, their relationship was barely rosy.
In March during the Parliament session Molale conceded that the relationship between government and BCL mine liquidator had turned sour and broken irrevocably.
Molale revealed that the liquidator formally applied to the master of the High Court on 28 May, 2019 asking that he relieves him his of his duties and obligations as liquidator and provisional liquidator.
“This was in accordance with Section 457(1) of the Companies Act, citing poor relationship between him and government. The master of the High Court consented to his request. I do not expect any significant impact as a result of the departure of the previous liquidator because the Master of the High Court ensured that there was handover,” said Molale.
BCL flooding, tremors
Molale said the flooding of the BCL’s South East Extension was solely the decision of the Liquidator despite being warned by the regulator against doing so
“I cannot ascertain at this point if the flooding will contaminate the aquifers, however studies will have to be conducted in order to determine or verify the spatial extent as well as the long term effects of the flooding of the shafts,” he said.
He fsaid the ministry has launched investigations into the nature and cause of the earth tremors, saying at this stage, it is suspected that the cause of tremors is from fall of ground at the old mine workings.
Keorapetse had asked if the flooding is likely to contaminate possibly (heavy metals) the total SPEDU region aquifers and the consequences on farming and human life and if the flooding has anything to do with earth tremors in the town.