Government has reached an agreement with the Liquidator to allow former employees of BCL Mine to continue occupying houses owned by the mothballed mine. Addressing Parliament recently, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Lefoko Moagi said the employees have been given an additional one year to stay in the properties.
He said government engaged the Liquidator to explore possible options to avert unintended consequences and they both agreed on a new arrangement which will allow the former employees to continue staying in the houses for a further 12 months, without imposing significant burden on government budget.
“During the twelve (12) months period, it is anticipated that the liquidation process would advance to a stage where PNR would complete their assessment and finalise the transaction if interested. This is envisaged to improve the local economy from whence houses could then be taken up,” Moagi told Parliament.
The minister added the decision was taken to avert homelessness and increased poverty amongst the former employees, reduce the spread of COVID-19 as movement of people will increase and prevent vandalism of vacant properties.
“The Liquidator is already struggling with vandalism of houses and the vandalism is greatly increased if the houses are left vacant. It is a possibility that some tenants might damage the properties before vacating, which would be an additional cost and loss of value to the government and the estate.”
Following the placement of BCL Group of Companies, including BCL Limited, BCL Investments and Tati Nickel Mining Company, under provisional liquidation by the High Court of Botswana, government took a decision to rent company houses to the former employees of the companies. There are currently 1,187 BCL housing units occupied by the former employees of BCL Limited with an average monthly rental cost of P2,302,000.
The Liquidator has since received indicative offers from Qora Limited, a company registered in Guernsey; Premium Nickel Resources Corporation (PNR), a company registered in the Province of Ontario, Canada; and Msymba Groupe SA (Pty) Ltd (Msymba), which is registered in the Republic of South Africa.
PNR was selected as the preferred bidder by the Liquidator, and they have been given an additional six months to undertake a more detailed due diligence on the assets before they can make a binding offer, if they are interested in the assets, and the transaction will be concluded shortly thereafter.
“Otherwise, if there is no interest from the preferred bidder, the Liquidators will decide what to do with the assets, including stripping off the assets for sale followed by rehabilitation of the mining sites,” Moagi said.
According to the minister, the decision to close the Mines was made after BCL’s financial challenges continued and a further P2 billion was requested from Government over and above the Barclays Bank loan advanced in March 2016. Government as a guarantor of the Barclays Bank loan settled it after the company was put into liquidation.