Government is expected to spend a further P250 million in the BCL mine liquidation process, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Eric Molale revealed. The Minister explained that as at Wednesday last week during a meeting with the liquidator, it was disclosed that there is P250 million available for this process.
The liquidator has been giving letters of employment termination for the care and maintenance employees arguing that he is running out of funds to keep the staff and continue with the liquidation process. Molale said they are mindful of the expenses of the funding, but as a responsible Government they are funding that and they continue to fund that and if the money gets finished because of this commitment, “I will go to my colleague and ask for money". At this juncture there could be no excuse whatsoever to say there is no money”, Molale told Parliament.
The minister was responding to a question from Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse who wanted the minister to clarify why the liquidator was laying off staff while the Minister assured Parliament that no one would be fired at the mine.
The Minister pointed out that ordinarily the liquidation process has been such that all creditors fund the process, but the Government took a deliberate decision to fund the liquidation process for a number of reasons. Among these he said was to make sure that the asset there is kept in a state that if indeed government does get some buyers, it would not be costly for them to restore it to some mineable state and value.
He said much as there was retrenchment at the time of the closure of the mine, the care and maintenance that would ensure government retains the value of the asset would continue to employ people, and therefore that would be something that would help some of the former employees to continue to have employment; and there were issues of the environment where the law mandates the Government in the event the miner who previously was mining there cannot take care of environmental consequences of the closure, then the Government automatically takes over.
“Government was obliged but at the same time the Government was a major shareholder. We had to take over and make sure that environmental issues do not get worse, and actually we had to mitigate those.
So, it is for these three reasons that we said we are going to fund this process of liquidation and we continue to fund it.
“As at 31st October 2018 we had spent for the whole process P 1, 080billion (One Billion and Eight Million Pula). This amount includes a P122 million for Tati Nickel and P1 million for the BCL Investment Group, which means the bulk of the money has been spent at BCL and as I did say, it includes environmental clean-up, de-watering the shafts, care and maintenance of which a larger part of it was to work on the crusher and related aspets.
“It is one of the biggest plants that we have at the mines. So, for anybody to take over the mine they would have to find the shafts and the crusher in good condition,” the minister said.Molale revealed that there is also the issue of cleaning the water that is being pumped, because it has heavy metals before it is discharged into the river. You cannot discharge that water without processing it to make sure that you extract from it, heavy metals that can have a deleterious effect on the health of people and animals. So that is the bulk of where the money has been going, he said.