* Liquidator, investor allegedly not on same page

The new owners of the BCL mine assets, Premium Nickel Resource Botswana (PNRB), are allegedly facing challenges from the Liquidator’s office which risk delaying the envisaged opening of the new mine.

There is clear evidence that the relationship between the new investor PNRB, Liquidator and or some of the Liquidator’s staff based at the BCL mine offices is not rosy. What makes it more complicated is that no one is willing to shed any light.

When contacted, PNR hierarchy hides behind issues of confidentiality, stating that they are hamstrung to talk to third parties, while an email inquiry to the Liquidator Trevor Glaum has been met with silence. For his part the Creditor and Minister of Minerals cited a tight official schedule.

PNRB, a subsidiary of a Canadian Company successfully bought Shafts 2 and 4 both in Selebi and Selibe north and immediately deployed technical staff to undertake the exploration process, which will lead to the opening of the mine.

Among others, the exploration process includes drilling from surface which takes up to six weeks working around the clock with a cost of nearly P3 million per hole.

The opening of the mine is President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi’s government flagship programme. In his general election campaign, Masisi promised to speed up the reopening of the former BCL mine and he has been frequently visiting the SPEDU area spreading the gospel.

But as things stand, the hope to reopen as quickly as possible is under serious threat due to what appears to either be an act of sabotage, lackadaisical performance from the side of the liquidator’s office, if not the bureaucratic red tape.

It is alleged that there have been delays in transfer of prospecting licenses and work permits. The liquidator is allegedly either refusing or delaying to sell some of the most critical equipment including Land Cruiser vehicles specifically designed to ferry staff underground.

The liquidator is also accused of not calling creditors’ meetings and not issuing a report to the Creditor in the Chief Registrar and Master of the High Court. The Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU), who are secured creditors, also cannot remember when the last creditors’ meeting was convened.

The liquidator has allegedly acted with impunity against the Chief Registrar and Master of the High Court’s directive to engage the services of some white South African employees at the mine, without permits.

In addition the liquidator’s staff disregarded some safety laws regarding miners working for PNR by leaving them underground at a level of 900 metres for hours without any form to get them out in cases of emergency.

This publication has learnt that for some time, the Liquidator has allowed BCL mine to run without a 6.1 appointee. The position 6.1 or Mining Manager is legal appointee under mining regulations and approved by the Department of Mines under the Mining Regulations.

There are allegations that PNR has offered to buy or rent movable equipment at the shafts, but the liquidator has been refusing to assist. It is alleged that such include underground bowser, graders, and land-cruisers.

Critical spares for the shafts purchased by PNR have allegedly been taken by the liquidator and are selling at extremely high prices. It is alleged that PNR offered to purchase an oil and diesel tanker for underground use.

This is despite the fact that it will not even fit at No 3 shaft. They have also done this for a grader that was especially modified for underground use.

Observers question the fact that after selecting PNR as the investor, what would be next. What the liquidator is still doing and for how long? There are claims that the only asset remaining with value add, is the BCL hospital.

They say the liquidator appears to have overstepped his perimeters as he is now doing rehabilitation, moving contaminated soil from Selebi and Selebi North to the tailings dam at Phikwe site. Those who are familiar with mining processes argue that the liquidator should not be doing

projects as he is there to save the money for the creditors.

All efforts to get a comment from BCL Liquidator Trevor Glaum were not successful as he did not respond nor acknowledge receiving the questionnaire sent to him. While PNR 6.1 or General Manager, Montwedi Mphathi did not want to field any questions citing issues of confidentiality.