- calls for the mine liquidation transparency intensifies
- Keorapetse to seek more clarity in Parliament
FRANCISTOWN: The BCL liquidation has already attracted a lot of controversy, after commentators poured water on the decision by liquidator Trevor Glaum to announce Premium Nickel Resources Corporation (PNR) as the preferred bidder, The Botswana Gazette can reveal.
After he questioned the selection of the preferred bidder criteria and called for transparency recently when responding to budget speech, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Selibe-Phikwe west Dithapelo Keorapetse is also expected to probe the liquidation process through a question in Parliament. Though he could not share the question he intends to pose to government, this week Keorapetse confirmed the development to this publication. “I have already sent the question I intends to ask to the Speaker on National Assembly,” Keorapetse told The Botswana Gazette in an interview.
This comes after sources close to the BCL liquidation expressed shock at the 11 February announcement, arguing that the Canadian company PNR was an inexperienced whose ability to profitably operate BCL was suspect.
“Compared to other bidders, they are a relatively small operation with a minimal track record of managing contracts that are as big as BCL. We don’t understand why PNR was chosen over other bidders,” the sources said.
As the selected bidder, PNR will be granted exclusive access to BCL mine to conduct comprehensive due diligence over the next six months before deciding whether to buy the mine or not.
Questions have been asked by sources as to why the liquidator chose to delay the opening of BCL by selecting a company that is yet to conduct due diligence over bidders who have already done due diligence and are ready to start operations.
“Why delay the re-opening of BCL when we have rampant unemployment in Selibe Phikwe? Even after the due diligence, PNR may decide not to buy BCL. What then? The liquidator is taking risks with people’s lives,” the sources quizzed rhetorically.
Further their concernis that the reopening of BCL may also be delayed by PNR, which is allegedly cash strapped to the point that it is trying to raise money from the capital markets. “In its investor presentation, PNR’s parent company, North American Nickel admitted that it has approached the markets to raise US$2.5m to finance the exclusive due diligence at BCL. So, this alone has the potential to delay the company to start mining should the company buy the mine after due diligence,” added the source.
BCL was put under provisional liquidation in 2016 due to non-profit making. Its closure at the time resulted in over 10 000 direct and indirect jobs.
Recently Keorapetse raised questions on the criteria that was used to select BCL mine Bidder, PNR calling for transparency in the process. Keorapetse who has been vocal on closure of BCL said it was questionable for the company with inadequate capital to have won the bid. Keorapetse said it was important for the national asset to be sold to a capable entity that would reopen the mine within the shortest possible time, inorder revive the economy of Selebi Phikwe and create much needed employment.
“We need more information, including the criteria on PNR selection as a preferred bidder for BCL. We have been asking for an expedited re-opening of the mine, we did not expect a company that would be still running around looking for US$ 12, 9 million for due diligence. We had expected a preferred bidder to be a company with adequate capital to do necessary assessment and resume operations. We need more information, including the criteria that was used on PNR’s selection as a preferred bidder for BCL mine,” Keorapetse stated when responding to budget speech,”
In a recent interview, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Lefoko Moagi told this publication that all the laid procedures were used to select the preferred bidder. “There was a laid down procedures for selection of preferred bidders that I have outlined numerous times in Parliament. All these procedures were followed when selecting the preferred bidder. It is unfortunate that the Liquidator did not assess bids presented in newspapers, but instead what was put on proposals by the bidders. If anyone is complaining why didn’t they indicate everything in their proposals,” Moagi quizzed rhetorically when responding to The Botswana Gazette enquiries.