The Parliamentary Finance and Estimates Committee has rejected a P430 million out of court settlement request by the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Sadique Kebonang to pay a Russian mining firm following the soured BCL deal.
Norilsk Nickel slapped government with a P2.7 billion lawsuit after it pulled out of buying a stake in a South African mine from the Russian miner. The proposal stated that there is value in avoiding a potential protracted and uncertain litigation process across multiple jurisdictions and that settlement of disputes at this stage will allow for the liquidation of the BCL Group of mines to progress in a more expedient manner. The minister also stated that it would reduce the on-going cost to government funding the litigation.
BCL Mine pulled out of a 3-billion-pula deal in October 2016 to buy a 50 percent stake in Nkomati Nickel Mine from Norilsk due to a lack of funds, prompting a lawsuit from the Russian mining conglomerate.
The Parliamentary Finance and Estimates Committee rejected this request citing that since BCL is under liquidation and is the one which is being sued for reckless trading, it is only proper for the creditors to be paid off the proceeds from the liquidation. “The committee also believes that since the matter is under Judiciary process, which is another arm of Government, Parliament or the executive should not interfere.”
However, Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe Dithapelo Keorapetse was skeptical that Parliamentary Finance and Estimates Committee’s decision is going to eventually get overruled by ruling party MPs since they are a majority. He argued that the request is yet to be subject to debates on the floor after its second and third reading and it is for Parliament to make the final decision.
But in his request Minister Kebonang indicates that the payment was already approved by Cabinet through a Presidential Directive (CAB/1(A) 2018 on January 24 this year.