- Selebi Phikwe residents, businesses optimistic
The recent announcement that a Canadian firm Premium Nickel Resources Corp. has been picked as the preferred bidder for the BCL Mine and that they have former BCL Managing Director Montwedi Mphathi as one of the directors has created excitement among Selibe Phikwe residents.
The announcement saw the share price for North American Nickel closing at $ 0.31, a move by 8.77% at Canadian’s TSX Venture.
Though they have just been given the exclusive period to complete due diligence on the BCL assets, the announcement has created excited in the sleepy mining town as some sense the resurrection of the once bubbly town.
Dark cloud fell on the copper mining town in October 2016 when government decided to put the mine under liquidation.
This led to massive job losses and closing of businesses in the mining town as the mine was the anchor of the town’s economy.
The name Mphathi tickle excitement among the Phikweans as they believe is the right person to bring back to live the copper mining company.
The hope and believe in Mphathi is ignited by his past record as the Managing Director of the copper mining company from 2003 to 2011 when he turned around the fortunes of the company which was on the brink of collapse.
In a short interview Mphathi said they have six months to do due diligence on the assets of BCL group of Companies which include BCL mine, Tati Phoenix and Selkirk Mines as well as regional exploration joint ventures on highly prospective Ni-Cu-Co projects located in Botswana.
The iron fisted miner first joined the BCL mine in 1987 working as spanner man, shift boss, superintendent until he became the General Manager in 2003.
When he took over the reins at the mine, the copper mining company was unprofitable and surviving on financial support from government which was the major shareholder.
He managed to turn around the mine so much that it even managed to pay off a P400 million emergency fund burrowed from government in 2000/2001.
In 2011 he shocked many when he resigned from BCL to join less known Botash in Sowa town and many wrote his mining career off.
He turned around the fortunes of the soda ash mining company but didn’t last as he was shown the door 6 years later as he clashed with the shareholders.
In an interview, Selibe Phikwe Mayor Lucas Modimana said that as the civic leadership they are happy that there is light at the end of the channel but very cautious about the news.“Remember they are just doing due diligence and the process and the entire process will take close to two years before it is completed,” he said.
Modimana said that as Phikweans they have been through a lot since the closure of the mine and accept any news that seem to bring economic hope to them.
The optimistic Modimana said that the announcement will help to attract investors to the sleepy mining town who were rather dragging their feet in investing in the town.
“We hope that once the mine is opened they will procure materials locally in order to boost the local economy and help create employment as well as creating new industries within SPEDU region,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer of Bulb world which has set up business in Selibe Phikwe, Ketshephaone Jacob said that the news has renewed their hope on the opening of the BCL Mine.
As a business person in the area, this announcement raises our hopes highly. Ketshephaone Jacob the individual was born and raised in Selebi Phikwe so naturally the town is really close to my heart.
“As an entrepreneur the main reason why I set up specifically in Selebi Phikwe was to try and restore the town after the mine shutdown so we are really hopeful and optimistic at even the slightest chance that the mine might reopen,” he said.
Jacob whose company is the first to venture into manufacturing of bulbs in Botswana said that the possibility of opening of the BCL Mine will be good for business because mining companies use lots of lights thus making the movement of their product in the region faster as well as people’s increased buying power.
He said that this will create employment opportunities for the youth within the SPEDU region.