After barely three years of operation, Boseto mine has been closed after being declared insolvent by its Board of Directors. The Discovery Metals Limited’s 100% owned copper mine has had a series of operational difficulties and battled debts since production commenced in the first half of 2012.
The financially troubled mine in its last quarterly report (Q2 FY15) experienced a mass decline by 13% of its copper production compared to Q1 FY15. The Copper Mine which lies in the north-west part of Botswana, about 90KM from Maun had an initial evaluated mine life of 15 years with an expansion plan that was to increase the life of the mine to 25 years.
On the fateful morning of Friday 27 the company was forced to shut down its operations, leaving about 422 miners unemployed. Reports are that this came after the company’s Managing Director and also Chief Executive Officer, Bob Fulker announced to the employees that its Group lenders in Australia submitted a letter of demand for an immediate payment of 103 million US dollars from the company and that they would not be accepting any further proposal from alternative potential investors.
With the help of Botswana Police Service and the Directorate of Intelligence Services and Security workers, the employees were forced to evacuate the mining premises and raided into buses which transported them to Maun.
DML recently published a market release titled “Appointment of Administrators” dated 27 February 2015 which explains how the company came to be declared insolvent. In the statement the company announces that its Board of Directors has appointed Michael Ryan and Stefan Dopking of FTI Consulting as voluntary administrators of the company effective 27 February 2015, pursuant to section 436A of the Corporations Act of 2001.
According to the report, the administrators are working with the company’s management to fully understand the options available to the group, which may potentially include seeking expressions of interest to purchase the business and assets, a restructure or recapitalization of the group.
DML explained that the receipt of the Friday 27 2015 correspondence from its Lender Group who demanded from the company full and immediate repayment of all monies comprising principal repayments, interest and costs was only the beginning.
On the 9th February 2015, DML entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Castlepines Global Equities Limited (Castlepines). Under the terms of the MOU Castlepines proposed to invest US$110,000,000 into the DML’s wholly owned subsidiary Discovery Copper (Botswana) (Proprietary) Limited (DCB), which would provide Castlepines with a 34% interest in DCB with the company holding the remaining 66% interest in DCB.
According to the report part of the investment was intended to be utilized by the Company and DCB to pay-out the loan from Cupric Canyon Capital LP (Cupric) of US$5,000,000 pursuant to the Facility Agreement dated on 28 November 2014. Also to negotiate the settlement of the existing loan finance facility with the Company’s secured lending syndicate (based on the MOU) and sufficient capital to undertake the required underground development.
However, following provision of the MOU to the Company’s Lender Group DML received a Notice of Event of Default dated 10 February 2015 from the Lender Group advising that the execution of the MOU by the Company was a likely breach of the Amended and Restated Facility Agreement dated 13 July 2014. The Company then disputed the position taken by the Lender Group in this Notice of Event of Default.
The statement further indicated that as a result of the Notice of Event of Default dated 10 February 2015, Cupric also issued a “Notice of Default and Reservation of Rights.” The notice was claiming breach of the Facility Agreement between the DML and Cupric dated 13 February 2015. According to the report Cupric is provided with a right to issue a notice of default via the Priority Deed pursuant to the Cross Default provisions.
It is underscored that members of the DML Board and Executive Team then traveled to London to engage in discussions with the Company’s lending syndicate. The purposes of these discussions were to resolve any issue provided for under the disputed Notice of Event of Default dated 10 February 2015.
It was also meant to discuss the MOU with Castlepines and the actions required by the parties to proceed progressing with the transaction contemplated under the MOU and any other matter relevant to the Amended and Restated Facility Agreement dated 13 July 2014 which either party considered necessary to resolve.
Following these discussions and at the express request and encouragement of the Lenders, DML reports to have then formally wrote to the Lenders requesting written agreement of retracting the Notice of Event of Default dated 10 February 2015. It also demanded implementation of a Standstill Period of no less than six months pertaining to all obligations and requirements pursuant to the Amended and Restated Facility Agreement and whereby no enforcement action would be taken by the lending syndicate.
In addition it also requested for the lending syndicate to accept the proposal of Castlepines to settle all amounts owing by DML in accordance with the terms provided for in the MOU with Castlepines. Also to complete a Share Purchase Plan or Rights Issue allowing for interim funding to be raised to provide the Company with some working capital and to pay part or all of the Loan payable to Cupric pursuant to the Facility Agreement dated 28 November 2014.
In response DML is reported to have received a notice that the Lender Group will not provide the written agreement requested by the company. The statement reveals that DML remains in default of the Restated and Amended Facility Agreement with the lending syndicate dated 13 July 2014 and the Facility Agreement with Cupric dated 28 November 2014. It adds that the Company is unable to remedy these defaults.
Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.
Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”
Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”
The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.
“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.
Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.
Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.
Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.
Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”
In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”
Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.
“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.
Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.
Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.
He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”
Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.
“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.
One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.
A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.
Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.
A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.”
Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.