The company had started consulting its employees, the Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) and government, which owns the mine, on the possibility of retrenching up to 2,000 workers.(SABC)
The cash-strapped Botswana nickel producer Bamangwato Concession Limited (BCL) has announced plans to retrench thousands of workers and dispose of non-core assets, including a private jet, in order to survive a crippling internal liquidity crunch that has been aggravated by the slump in the demand and price of nickel on the global commodity market.
In an interview published by local daily newspaper Mmegi on March 22, BCL spokesperson James Molosankwe said the company was re-organizing its main strategic businesses to survive the cash crunch and regain viability.
To achieve that, the company had started consulting its employees, the Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) and government, which owns the mine, on the possibility of retrenching up to 2,000 workers to cut its huge wage bill.
“The company will duly consult with employees and relevant stakeholders in accordance with established and known consultation structures according to the labor laws of Botswana and collective agreements between the BCL and worker unions, in line with our organizational values which include treating the people who work for us with dignity and respect.
“The implications of any decision taken in this regard will be carefully considered in the broader context, which is transforming the organization into a viable entity and ensuring its long-term survival,” Molosankwe said.
The retrenchment process will run alongside a cocktail of cost-cutting measures which include the disposal of most non-core assets to raise capital and fast-track the operation of a new open-cast mine in a bid to buoy the fortunes of the troubled nickel giant.
“The company is involved in evaluating measures and processes to cut its costs of operation and such measures which include but are not limited to the following: a fast-tracking of the Selkirk open pit mine in Tati to ensure that it is operational by the end of the year.
“We also plan to reduce utility costs and increase the utilization of the newly refurbished smelting plant (in Selebi-Phikwe) through attracting nickel concentrate from outside and the disposal of non-core assets such as the BCL private jet aircraft, among others,” Molosankwe said.
Since the beginning of the year, BCL has been dogged by a financial crisis which has since been worsened by its failure to sell huge nickel stocks due to the global downturn in the demand and price of nickel prices.
The cash crunch has hit the company’s expansion plans by stifling its exploration and new mine development capability amid reports that its available nickel resources in Selebi Phikwe are on the verge of running out after 50 years of continuous exploitation.