Motsepe to buy BCL Smelter?

SHARE   |   Monday, 30 January 2017   |   By Phillimon Mmeso
Motsepe Motsepe

Patrice Motsepe through his company African Rainbow Minerals is said to be one of the leading investors who are interested in acquiring BCL’s most treasured asset – the multibillion smelter. Recently BCL liquidator Nigel Dixon revealed that all the BCL Enterprises were fatally insolvent. Interest is said to be on the BCL Mine Smelter which was recently refurbished at the tune of over P700 million. It has an estimated value of between US$2 billion and US$3 billion and capacity to treat up to 850 000mt of nickel/copper concentrates per annum. One of the reasons BCL embarked on POLARIS II and acquired copper/nickel mines in the region was to maximise the use of the smelter which is the biggest in the region. Before the closure of the mine, BCL smelter used to treat nickel/copper concentrates across the region including from Nkomati but was still operating below its capacity. Motsepe is the founder of African Rainbow Minerals – the major shareholder of Nkomati Mine, one of the largest nickel reserves in South Africa having estimated reserves of 408.6 million tonnes of ore grading 0.33% nickel. Motsepe – the executive chairman of ARM – revealed last year that they are planning to sell their shares at Zambian Lumbabe copper mine for other lucrative opportunities. “We will be in copper, but that mine [Lumbabe] … if we get the right price, we will sell it,” said Motsepe. “That’s absolutely important. There are a lot of other opportunities in copper that we are looking at, absolutely world class,” as he was quoted in the media. As part of the deal ARM is expected to buy some housing units owned by BCL which will be used by its employees.

BMWU find an investor
As per their promise, Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) attended the Mines and Money conference in London to try and market BCL and its subsidiaries.
BMWU President Jack Tlhagale confirmed that they attended the conference which attracts mine companies around the world and made a presentation that government is selling its copper nickel mine. “Most companies showed interest and recently when the liquidator Nigel Dixon made an announcement that there were some European investors interested in buying BCL, we were adamant that they might the one who attended the conference,” said Tlhagale. Mines and Money London is Europe’s largest mining investment conference and exhibition, bringing together over 2,500 attendees from 75 countries and has been running for 13 years. He said as BMWU their position is that instead of selling the mine in pieces government should find a strong investor who will buy the whole assets. “This will create jobs for our members who are currently idling,” said Tlhagale. On allegations that ARM is interested in buying the smelter, BMWU president said they won’t be surprised as one of the reasons for BCL to buy stake in Nkomati was in order to treat their concentrates at the smelter.

The Economic Revitalisation Strategy
In its effort to try and revitalise the economy of Phikwe and surrounding villages, government through the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry came up with Economic Revitalisation Strategy. President Ian Khama appointed the former Bank of Botswana governor Linah Mohohlo to head the strategy of turning around the economy of Phikwe. So far it is not yet clear which major projects are in the offing to try to create new jobs after the loss of close to 6000 when the mine closed.