BCL Liquidator fires 160 employees without informing government

  • 160 employees cut this week
  • Operations of mines to close next year July
  • Need investor to buy the mine or else it closes completely
  • “I am not aware of any of this” – Eric Molale
  • “BCL liquidation has become a cash cow for the liquidator” – Keorapetse

Chedza Mmolawa

BCL liquidator Nigel Dixon-Warren has revealed this week that he was compelled to let go of 160 employees who remained working on the maintenance of the BCL mine, because he is running out of money. The 160 employees were part of the last vestiges of 510 employees who were retained to maintain the mine while it underwent liquidation. The care and maintenance of the mine shafts entail de-watering the mine shafts which requires pumping, ventilation, repairs of critical mining infrastructure and machinery required such as cages, pumping equipment, water treatment plants, the concentrator upkeep and surface area cleanup. This is to maintain and prepare the assets for disposal.

“Yes it’s true; I have cut 160 employees because I am running out of money. Since liquidation process I was given P1.2billion to liquidate. I was engaged by the court for liquidation so whether I run out of money or not, the court expects me to continue liquidating until the process is complete. Right now, I am looking into cutting costs anyhow I can to keep the process ongoing, I will keep re-structuring to maintain the process. Cutting some employees this week was part of the restructuring. I hope that I will get money to keep going and the best thing that could happen is if the mine was to find a buyer between now and the time I run out of money completely. I estimated that by July 2019 if there are no buyers of the mine or if I can’t find money anywhere else, then the mine will have to shut down completely in order for me to continue with the liquidation process. But yes, the mine is likely to close next year if it is not bought,” Warren revealed to this publication.

Dixon-Warren said as for members of parliament who say that he is deliberately prolonging the liquidation process for his own benefit, he can only say they are uninformed, and they have no idea what they are commenting on. He said those parliamentarians have made no attempt to find out what exactly goes into the liquidation of a mine and have no idea what is truly happening at BCL. He said nobody can tell him what to do or what not to do because he is the liquidator and he knows what is best.

In an interview with The Botswana Gazette, Member of Parliament for Selebi-Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse said, “I think it is in the interest of the liquidator that the mine is not reopened soon and continues to make money from the process. I think he may actually be deterring investors from buying and running the mine. I also think he may be cutting costs in a manner that puts assets in jeopardy. I think something must be done ASAP to remove the liquidator. Government has used over a billion pula in the process and my view is that priority must be given to reopening of the mine,” he said.

Keorapetse said he has engaged with the Speaker and Clerk of Parliament to probe the matter further.

In an interview with The Botswana Gazette, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Eric Molale said there is little he can say concerning the BCL liquidator as he is not aware of the 160 employees that have been terminated from the mine. “I am not aware of any employees who were let go from the mine. Mr Dixon-Warren has not updated or informed me of any of these changes. So it makes it very difficult for me to answer any question concerning the mine at this point in juncture,” he said. This is contrary to what Molale said when he answered Keorapetse’s questions in parliament concerning the remaining employees of the mine.

Contrary to what Dixon-Warren told this publication, when responding to Keorapetse’s questions in parliament, Molale assured the youthful MP that his ministry has no intention to reduce the care and maintenance employment levels at BCL. “In fact I have asked the liquidator to optimize employment levels to comply with the relevant legislation, in particular, as it relates to safety and health,” he said. In his response he admitted that he was aware of letters issued informing some BCL employees that their contracts will not be renewed.