Nkomati: BCL�s curate egg

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The BCL Mine has been closed for six months now, with little hope that the 4,500 direct jobs lost can be recovered. Efforts are now underway to secure a buyer for the BCL Group assets, with a company from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said to have shown significant interest in acquiring the mining and metallurgy group. In tracing back the events leading to the abrupt closure of mine while also trying to unpack possible solutions, Business Weeek’s BRIAN BENZA arrives at the conclusion that while the Nkomati Mine deal was the cause of BCL’s hurried shutdown, the South African mine is also equally part of, if not the only solution to a sustainable and viable revival of the Selebi-Phikwe based operation

The sudden closure of BCL has been largely blamed on the botched P3 billion deal to buy half of  Nkomati Mine from Russia’s Norilsk Nickel. A few days after the closure of the mine, former BCL chairperson Khaulani Fichani hinted to BusinessWeek that retaining control over the liquidation process was one of the factors that drove government to apply for voluntary provisional liquidation.

This came about a month after the South African minister of minerals gave consent to the transaction, an approval the Russians are now saying was the only outstanding condition for the deal to become binding. BCL, through the liquidator, on the other hand is  also now arguing in South African courts that the minister should have never given that consent as BCL did not have the wherewithal to meet the requirements of being a shareholder in Nkomati.

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