SELEBI-PHIKWE: Senior staff members of both BCL and Tati Nickel were on Wednesday briefed on the decision to reduce the care and maintenance operations that would result in some of them losing their jobs by the end of November.
The review that would determine the number of positions that would be required going forward, would be undertaken in the next six weeks while formal termination letters would be issued to all employees by the end of this month.
According to the liquidator, Nigel Dixon-Warren affected employees would be paid their terminal benefits including leave pays and severance benefits by December 15 while new contracts of employment for available positions would be issued in November to formally commence duty at the beginning of December. He stated that these contracts of employment will be aligned to the new organogram for BCL and Tati Nickel.
He explained that when the care and maintenance teams were issued with the letters of continued employment when the mines were liquidated in October 2016, his intention was that the new contracts be issued but to date this has not been feasible.
He however said that given the work done in recent months it is now possible and would be undertaken alongside the human resource review.
He noted that the benefits of the restructuring exercise are that it would ensure that employees are fairly remunerated and that their job descriptions align to the work being done.
“It would also simplify the payroll structure to regularise the allowances and benefits payable to employees. I am aware that the issue of allowances and benefits payable to employees has been a source of frustration to employees for sometime,” he said.
He further explained that since 2016, BCL and Tati Nickel have maintained the same level of care and maintenance while efforts were made to find a buyer of the assets in the current state as required by government.
He also said operations were normalised and stabilised following the placing of the mines on care and maintenance and while work was being done to address the poor state of the assets including making it safe and de-risking key areas of
“It is now necessary to ensure that the operations are sustainable in the long term.
“We would only undertake those activities that are considered necessary to increase the possibility of disposal of the assets for the maximum value while reducing the obligations of the estate.
The new organogram would reflect the reduction in activities,” he said.
The liquidator explained that as a result the care and maintenance activities need to be reduced and this would include reducing underground water pumping activities to the minimum while retaining access to the resources across the site.
This is already ongoing at South East Extension and No 1 Shaft. The reduction also includes reducing surface activities in relation to the mining infrastructure to de-energise the plant and smelter to bring them to rest.
Activities to that effect are already in progress to drain the boiler and drop the counter-weights, amongst others. He further added that the broader winding up activities will continue.
“As I previously advised, I do not recommend the closure of the mine because it would not be in the interest of the creditors who are my core business.
“I am of the view that the mine be maintained on a level of care and maintenance while a buyer is identified and the plans for eventual closure are undertaken,” he said.
He noted that the plans are being developed and that while there has been some interest in the mines, the discussions with the interested parties are at very early stages and it is expected to take months to determine if there is any potential deal.
“I have written to the Department of Labour, Department of Mines and the Ministry if Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security to advise them that I am proceeding with these plans and I would also inform Botswana Mine Workers Union for information purposes,” he noted.