I thought that I should take this opportunity of my retirement from the BCL Limited Board of Directors to thank all of those that I have worked with, Board Members as well as BCL Management since 2010 when I joined the said Board. I have been truly privileged and blessed to have worked with some of the most talented, dedicated professional Batswana of high integrity, as Board Members and Management. To have been given the opportunity to lead such talented and dedicated group of Batswana was an honor and humbling to me as a person despite some of the most difficult problems experienced by the company. We have always pulled together to solve some of the difficult problems such as the tax issues in the Republic of South Africa. What was remarkable about this was it involved the Board Members from different stakeholder-companies who before 2010 were involved in simmering tensions and alleged conflict of interest. Dealing with the tax issue, all pulled together for the good of the company which made me proud despite the fact that we were facing one of the biggest risks the company had ever faced.
I often marvel and wonder as well as intrigued by some the most vehement criticisms from some arm chair critics who have not even taken the time to familiarize themselves with the history and story of BCL. Hopefully, and time permitting this gives one the opportunity to put the said story in print in the not too distant future. BCL has gone through at least six (6) restructuring exercises, three (3) Technical Partners to the Botswana Government who have served in the Board of Directors. One recalls the first of such Technical Partner, was one of the leading mineral company in the world that had profound impact in all aspects of the economy of one of the most developed countries of the Motherland Africa. They terminated their association with BCL Limited in 2002/03 passing the baton to a smaller company run by some of the brightest International entrepreneurs in the world mineral industry. As a person I was really privileged and humbled to have come in contact with such esteemed entrepreneurs in the service of BCL Limited.
The last Technical Partner was one of the largest International nickel company in the world. These people and companies have contributed immensely to the survival of BCL Limited even at the time when they did not believe in the viability of the company. Any entity that has been operating for some time will go under if it cannot redefine its current operating model in the face of the fundamentally changed environment. BCL Limited is no exception, and its future lies in redefining its operating model to meet any emergent needs of the future. BCL Limited operates some of the lowest grade ores in the world in very deep shafts, and at depths in excess of 1000 meters underground - making these mines very costly to operate; very dangerous to operate in terms for potential accidents and difficult underground conditions (e.g. high temperatures). The mines have been operating for a very long time for more than forty (40) years. As a result the future in no longer in these mines especially with the ability to withstand long mineral down-turn price cycles.
Therefore, I am very proud to have been associated with crafting the future of the new BCL Limited in the form of Polaris II strategy despite the fact this strategy has been impacted negatively by the current mineral commodity prices downturn. Furthermore, Botswana is blessed with some of the brightest and very dedicated individuals of high integrity some who have served in the BCL Board, some in Management. The country should harness such experiences and skills, because it is endowed with huge mineral deposits that cannot be exploited the old way but requires innovation and high level technology. The future of the country lies in development and exploitation of its mineral resources in a manner as to drive its industrialization such as in some of the leading economics in the world.
I thank you.
Dr. Akolang Russia Tombale