Mmegi Online :: Settlement adds lustre to BCL too little, too late
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Last Updated
Friday 21 September 2018, 15:09 pm.
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Settlement adds lustre to BCL too little, too late

News that government has paid P522 million to settle a P2.7 billion lawsuit by Norilsk Nickel, has removed one of the major liabilities any potential buyer would have to carry. Mmegi Correspondent, ONALENNA KELEBEILE finds that the Mine is still set for a piece by piece sale
By Onalenna Kelebeile Fri 09 Mar 2018, 22:03 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Settlement adds lustre to BCL too little, too late








SELEBI-PHIKWE: BCL Group mine’s liquidator Nigel Dixon-Warren is optimistic that the settlement of a lawsuit by Botswana government to the Russian mining outfit, Norilsk Nickel International, could improve the Mine’s attractiveness to suitors.

He is of the belief that matters should be resolved amicably instead of expensive lengthy processes of going to court. “Amicable settlement is of course to the benefit of the BCL Mine. The Russian mining giant has always demonstrated willingness to settle matters out of court,” he said in an interview this week.

Dixon-Warren said the BCL closure plan should be set aside as the Mine at some point in time could re-open. A clean up is still necessary, because the Mine will not be in operation for sometime.

“We want to demonstrate that we can do the clean up in a more cost effective way to make the resources more attractive. I still have to present the strategy to government so that I win her buy-in. This is all to say let us not implement the closure plan that has already been prepared because it is expensive. Instead we can get specific areas out as individual projects that will contribute to the Mine,” he said.

The liquidator said this would improve the value of BCL and reduce liabilities and obligations under the mining rights. He added that anybody buying the Mine would have to take over all obligations such as environmental rehabilitation and this is what has been putting investors off.

He said the low-grade ore that BCL has been mining is also a reason for little interest, but that it can be profitable with good market prices and the cost of mining maintained at proper levels and through capital investment.

The change of strategy is necessary because for all the companies that had shown interest in buying BCL, none demonstrated that they

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have the capacity to do so. However, he said the companies would still be engaged in strategies employed to ensure the Mine opens in future.

“We have made attempts together with government to find a buyer with little interest because a lot has to be done to make the operation attractive to investors. We are going to improve our understanding and knowledge of the BCL resources that can be viable in the future and convince government that it is better to take a longer term view instead of assuming that the operation can close completely and make her understand why this will be beneficial to Selebi-Phikwe,” he said, adding that, “Instead of closing completely we want to reduce the cost of keeping everything open.

The reasons why a lot of money is used on care and maintenance is because we are keeping everything open underground.  That is no longer necessary but we can keep access to the key resources that have a future”.

Nickel resources are scarce around the world and the type of nickel mined at BCL and Tati has an important ingredient for electric vehicles, which are increasingly popular globally. European countries have already taken the route towards the ban of petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles, with Sweden scheduling the shift for 2025, while United Kingdom and Germany expect the move by 2030 and 2040 respectively.

There are other ore deposits that may be mined in the next 25 years and others that we may not know of. “As a result, we want to make BCL as clean as possible and fix all problems. Those activities will be big projects that will require a lot of resources and would present employment and investment opportunities. There will also be a lot of opportunities for the private sector to get involved,” Dixon-Warren added.

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