Good business practice saved Tati - Sebetlela

Staff Writer
FRANCISTOWN: Good business practice and "other measures" have contributed to the survival of Tati Nickel Mining Company (TNMC), says the company's Managing Director, Sebetlela Sebetlela.

"We are not saying that we are out of the woods, but we are looking much more positive today," Sebetlela told a press conference at the end of a tour of Phoenix Mine near here last Friday. "There are a host of other measures that we have put in place that keep us surviving,"said Sebetlela,at a media briefing.

He told journalists that the business environment changed all the time to the extent that "it's even difficult to predict the future with any precision". However, there were improvements on the business landscape now.

"Prices go up and down, leaving no room for comfort at all. The moment  you feel comfortable, you go out of business. Fluctuations in metal prices require good management," Sebetlea said, emphasising that it took good planning to succeed, hence they would not rest on their laurels simply because they saw a light at the end of the tunnel.

Responding to a question regarding the value of a newly acquired technology called Dense Media Separation (DMS), Sebetlela said: "If we got that right, we can say with a lot of confidence that the DMS has made a lot of difference."

The DMS plant is a technology used to extract and enhance residual nickel concentrate from waste heaps around the mine.

Sebetlela also attributed TNMC's survival to good relations between mine management and workers through the Botswana

Mine Workers Union (BMWU). TNMC has 700 employees who are members of BMWU.

Sebetlela took the opportunity to dismiss widespread speculation last year that Russian-based Norilsk Nickel International, which owns Tati Nickel Mining Company, ever considered shedding off some of its overseas operations, including those in Botswana.

"There was nothing tangible at all in that speculation," he said. "We at Tati remain the most important asset that they have in Africa."

In addition to Botswana, Norilsk Nickel International has operations in South Africa, Finland and Australia. "In terms of nickel out of the ground, we are (the largest) operation outside Russia and are indeed a significant operation," he said. "Norilsk has commitments and plans about its operations in Botswana."

Sebetlela cited the 'secondment' of Nikolay Sergeev, an advisor to the First Deputy General Director of Norilsk Nickel International, who is currently at TNMC for some specific business, as an illustration of the solid relations between the two.

"Tati is a new acquisition as it was bought about two-and-a-half years ago from LionOre International," he said. "Sergeev is at Tati to familiarise himself with the TNMC vision of business in Botswana. They want to appreciate our operations in Botswana as part of their overseas operations." The tour of Phoenix Mine, which was commissioned in 2002, was conducted against the background of the impact of the global economic downturn.



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