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BCL reopening: Canadian investors keep dream alive

This week, Canadian-based North American Nickel (NAN) revived the dream of reopening the mine by announcing that it is participating in raising capital to finance the purchase of BCL assets. NAN has a 10 percent stake in another Canadian company, Premium Nickel Corporation, recently appointed the preferred bidder for BCL mine.

The latest development revives the hopes of more than 5000 former employees of the BCL Group who lost their jobs when the Government liquidated the mines in 2016 due to a fall in commodity prices, among other factors. According to a report seen by Weekend Post states that the North American Nickel “has participated for its pro-rata share in a recent private placement financing of Premium Nickel Resources (PNR), to maintain its 10% equity ownership.”

According to North American Nickel, “The PNR private placement is being held in escrow and is conditional on the anticipated signing of the Asset Purchase Agreement for the assets in liquidation of the former BCL Limited, Botswana.” PNR recently announced that it has pledged to make a financial contribution to the care and maintenance activities at BCL Group and its subsidiaries, including Tati Nickel mines. The mines closed in 2016 with the loss of more than 5000 jobs, and the Government is the one footing the bill for care and maintenance.

The report says North American Nickel is a founding shareholder PNR which submitted an Indicative Offer to the BCL Liquidator in June 2020 to acquire the former producing BCL Selebi-Phikwe Mining Complex and the Tati Nickel Mining Corporation (“TNMC”) Operations as well as regional exploration joint ventures on highly prospective Ni-Cu-Co projects located in north-eastern Botswana. The report quotes North American Nickel Chief Executive Officer Keith Morrison saying that his company is working with PNR during the current exclusivity period to finalise the assets for purchase (assets of BCL).

“The use of this private placement will enable a smooth transition to the ownership of the assets and prepare for the activities required to advance the purchased assets to a compliant Pre-Feasibility level,” he said. Morrison added that “The PNR business model is based on a modern redevelopment of a combination of the BCL and TNMC deposits to produce Ni-Cu-Co and water in a manner which will benefit all stakeholders and that is inclusive of modern environmental, social and corporate governance responsibilities.”

He said PNR’s goal is to significantly reduce the environmental and carbon footprint with the adaption of best practices including safety, sustainability and the application of new technologies.” PNR was selected as the preferred bidder to acquire the assets formerly owned by BCL Limited and TNMC on February 10, 2021. On March 24, 2021, PNR completed the Exclusivity Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with the Liquidator for the ongoing six-month exclusivity period to complete additional work and related Asset Purchase Agreements (See News Release Dated March 24, 2021).

“Negotiations are ongoing to finalise terms on the prioritised assets that will be included in the Asset Purchase Agreement. The BCL operations at Selebi-Phikwe are comprised of a mining complex, a concentrator and a processing facility, as well as other supplementary assets and infrastructure such as rail lines, tailings facilities, and employee housing” said Morrison. The report says shaft sinking and plant construction started in 1970, and open-pit mining commenced at Phikwe in 1972.

“Throughout the mine’s life, the various deposits, over a 14 km strike length, have been mined by open pit and various underground mining methods. Mining concluded in October 2016 when the operations were placed on care and maintenance due to a failure in the smelter,” the report says. It reveals that PNR’s redevelopment plan is based on a re-characterisation of the remaining resources and producing two separate commercial concentrates (a Cu concentrate and a separate Ni-Co concentrate).

North American Nickel says the historical statements of resources and reserves noted above are sourced from the following report Wood Mackenzie – Selebi Phikwe Closed Nickel Operation Asset Report, December 2018. It says Sharon Taylor reviewed the information on behalf of North American Nickel (NAN), who has concluded that the stated reserves and resources are non NI 43-101 compliant.

“However, the historical reserves and resources are considered relevant and reliable as a basis for understanding the potential resources at the property. To the best of North American Nickel (NAN’)s knowledge, information and belief, there is no new material, scientific or technical information that would disclose the mineral resources inaccurate or misleading.

“NAN has not done sufficient work to classify the historical estimate as current mineral resources or mineral reserves and is not treating the historical estimate as current mineral resources or mineral reserves. The company understands that PNR, upon successful acquisition of the assets, intends to commence a program to update the resource model to support an NI 43-101 compliant resource estimate),” the company said.

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BPS, Mosala Funeral Parlour butt heads over SA national remains

19th September 2023

A squabble has broken out between Pule Mosala Funeral Parlour and the Botswana Police Service (BPS) over the remains of a South African national who has been in the Mosala mortuary for more than nineteen months. The deceased was one of 10 suspects who were controversially shot dead during a lengthy shootout with law enforcement authorities in Gaborone’s Phase 2 early last year.

The deceased individual’s family based in Soweto, has encountered difficulties in repatriating the body which has been in the care of Mosala Mortuary Services. Following the incident, it has emerged that all 10 bodies were transported to PFG mortuary in Lobatse for a brief period while the police attempted to locate their next of kin.  It is reported that the families of the deceased were eventually identified and informed to come and identify their loved ones, including other South African nationals who were part of the criminal group. These families also witnessed the autopsy procedures conducted at Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone.

Except for the family from Soweto, nine of the bodies were claimed and taken by their separate relatives. The Soweto family claims they lack the resources to bring the body back to South Africa and has made it known that they are looking for money. To end the supposed verbal agreement over the body’s storage for repatriation, Mosala Funeral Service has filed a case against the police at the Lobatse High Court.

According to Keakantse Mmotlhana, the company’s Sales and Marketing Manager, 10 people who were killed in Phase 2 by gunfire were all temporarily transferred to one of PFG’s branches in Lobatse by the police while efforts were made to find their next of kin. She expressed outrage at the statement made by the Minister of Defense and Security, recently.

After Assistant Police Commissioner Dipheko Motube called her office to apologize for giving the Minister wrong information during a news conference, she confirmed that they had accepted the apologies. He made it clear that one of the victims was still at Pule Mortuary in Lobatse.

Bushie Mosala, the director and owner of Mosala Funeral Services, confirmed that the body of a South African national has been in his mortuary for the past nineteen months. He expressed his desire for the police to remove the corpse from the mortuary, characterising the situation as a “nightmare.” He has instructed his legal team to file a lawsuit against the police in the Lobatse High Court concerning the body.

Mosala urged the acting Police Commissioner to come forward and apologize to the nation for the situation, asserting that the public has the right to know the truth regarding the body of the South African national, w

C -002Bhich was preserved by the police as evidence.

The South African High Commission in Gaborone had not responded to queries from Weekend Post at the time going of going to press.

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BOSETU frustrated by Gov’t new dispute winning strategy

19th September 2023

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) has expressed alarm over a troubling trend by the government. Tobokani Rari, Secretary General of the BOSETU, stated that it appears that these days, whenever there is a dispute between workers and the government, the administration is fast to run to the courts to attempt and muffle unions.

“This is quite disturbing development, we have seen it with the Botswana Doctors Union, there was a disagreement over the shift allowance, government rushed to court, they indeed got order that was saying the doctors should go and do the work. We have seen it with the nurses, they rushed to court they got the order, we are now seeing it with the teachers, they rushed to the court and they got what they wanted,” said Rari, who also served as the Secretary General of BOFEPUSU.

Rari raised concerns that the government’s enforcement of teacher’s work, through a court order will result in reduced classroom productivity and morale. Rari added that this situation would negatively impact labour relations and teachers emotional wellbeing due to dissatisfaction in their work places leading to persistently poor academic outcomes.

“You can get an order that forces people to work, but what happens at work, it heightens emotions, it destroys relationships and the morale goes down and productivity does. Courts and judgments don’t solve productivity issues. Productivity only comes when people are satisfied at the workplace, so if you force them to work through a court order then you may not get the maximum out of the working population,” said Rari

MESD vs BOSETU COURT CASE

“As you are aware, the Ministry of Education approached courts and they were demanding three things from the court in this case between BOSETU and the ministry. First, they were demanding that the joint letter that was written by BOSETU and Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) asking members to stop doing course work because there was no agreement be declared unlawfully and BOSETU should write to its members and withdraw that letter within 24hrs. The second thing that they were looking for, was to interdict BOSETU from further issuing any instructions to that effect going forward. Lastly was that court should hold BOSETU to pay the cost of the lawsuit on a punitive scale,” Rari said.

Rari stated that the court decided to rule in favour of the Ministry of Education on all three relieves sought, that the savingram should be declared unlawful, that BOSETU should withdraw the contents savingram within 24hrs.

Court also said BOSETU should not issue any of such instructions going forward up until the case of contempt that BOSETU has taken to court, the contempt of the 2009 judgment has been decided. Court also awarded cost to the ministry on a punitive scale.

“BOSETU is a law abiding citizen and therefore we are bound by any laws and judgments that are there in Botswana and arise on the courts of Botswana hence we have complied with the order. On the 31st after the court case, we wrote to all our members and told them that the contents of that savingram as far as coursework is concerned has been withdrawn,” said Rari.

Rari said what happened in this case is that the judge decided to listen to the urgency without the responding affidavits of the opposing party, BOSETU, and went on to rule the merit of the case, which surprised the union.

“However we have been in discussion with our lawyers because if we leave things like this, we feel like we cannot leave that unchallenged. We have taken a decision to appeal the judgment,” Rari confirmed.

2023 COURSEWORK AND INVIGILATION AGREEMENT

“We would like to make our members aware that the following day after the judgment, we were able to meet the Ministry of Education and we have arrived at a conclusion that we signed an agreement that coursework rates will be increased by 5%. If court had ruled that coursework is the duty of the teachers’ means it wouldn’t have been any agreement after the court case, it tells you that the issue is still open and it is on the table. We have arrived at an agreement that there is going to be an increment on all components of coursework and invigilation,” Rari pointed out.

Rari further explained that Article 2 says union party is to submit detailed proposals on the intensity of the coursework for further engagement. Intensity of coursework means where the coursework payment starts in terms of varying from different subjects. He said the outcome based subject that are taught Maun Senior Secondary School and Moeng college which are agriculture and hotel and tourism is that ministry have agreed and acknowledge  that there are some peculiarity in their coursework and   therefore should be paid in line with the peculiarities that are contained in their coursework.

CONGRESS RESOLUTION

Rari pointed out the resolutions taken at the conference where the issue of application of corporal punishment was addressed.  “BOSETU will issue out a memo to their members to advise them that they should not apply corporal punishment, they should leave it to be applied in line with the Education Act.”

 

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BMC sees red as mass buffaloes disrupt plans to supply schools

19th September 2023

The Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) which had struck a deal with the Ministry of Education to supply some schools in the northern part of the country is counting losses as mass migration of buffalos jeopardize the Commission’s plans. 

Information reaching this publication shows that the beef exporter was recently given the greenlight to supply government schools with beef. According to documents seen by this publication, as a result BMC had scheduled to buy and collect cattle in the Nata-Gweta and Boteti constituencies from 11 to 17 September.

This was after BMC and the Ministry of Education struck a deal for the former to supply government schools with beef. Letters exchanged between Ministry officials state that it has been recommended to the ministry to support BMC by allowing it to supply schools with beef products.

The Ministry indicated that it was aware that some schools have contracts that are currently running with suppliers such as local butcheries.

The Ministry revealed that at the same time BMC has 256 tins of frozen quality meat at its Maun Plant.

The Ministry requested the Director-Regional Operations to appoint an officer to manage the procurement of meat for schools that do not currently have running contracts. The Ministry further stated that Modalities of collection will be arranged between the region and the schools identified.

According to the Ministry, a list of schools including the condition of their cold rooms and their number of deliveries and kilograms per week they buy should be compiled. The Ministry also requested its officials to share the list with headquarters and the acting director-Basic Education, and engage BMC accordingly to procure.

But this plan ran into trouble after it emerged that between 300 to 500 buffalos migrated from the buffalo fence area to Nata, Dukwi and Mosetse areas.

The Department of Veterinary Services sprang into acting by revising movement protocol for cloven-hoofed animals with immediate effect following buffalo sightings in zone 3b which covers Nata/Sowa, zone 3c which is around the Dukwi areas as well as zone 6a, which covers the Mosetse area, which fall under zones, 3b, 3c, 5,6a and 8.

The Department of Veterinary Services indicated that as a result, movement of live cloven-hoofed animals and their products out of zones 3b, 3c, 5, 6a and 8 were prohibited and that movement of live cloven-hoofed animals within and into these zones is only allowed for direct slaughter at licensed slaughter facilities under veterinary movement permit issued through BAITS.

The department also indicated that the movement of fresh products derived from cloven-hoofed animals such as raw milk, skins and fresh meat into these zones is also only allowed under a similar arrangement.

Movement of live cloven-hoofed animals into these zones for rearing and other purposes will not be allowed, and farmers and the general public is requested to continue being vigilant and report any buffalo sightings to the nearest veterinary office, the police or the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, the department said.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Agriculture has stated that following the press release on prohibition of movement of live cloven-hooved animals and their products in and out of Zones 3b, 3c, 5, 6a & 8, the acting Minister of Agriculture Karabo Gare, his counterpart Acting Minister of Environment, Wildlife &  Tourism Mabuse Pule, acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Mr. Joshua Moloi, Director of Veterinary Services Dr Kefentse Motshegwa and other government officials visited the areas of Sepako and Dukwi respectively on a mission to consult with communities regarding the invasion of the places by buffalos.

Minister Gare alluded that they have been sent by the President of Botswana, who is equally worried by the current situation. He noted that the affected areas have a total of around 300000 cattle and if the situation goes unchecked, there might be detrimental effects on the economy of this country.

He encouraged the communities to help government going forward by reporting any spotted buffalos in their areas, emphasizing that buffalos are dangerous and can kill people and that care should be exercised at all times.

The Director of Veterinary Services mentioned that they closed the above mentioned zones to allow for testing of buffalos & cattle for foot & mouth disease. The wildlife department’s Director Mr. Moremi Batshabang assured farmers and the community that they will eliminate small clusters of buffalos found within communities and translocate larger clusters to ensure their safety.

 

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