BCL, the country’s oldest copper and nickel miner, splashed P 5 million in the upgrading and refurbishment of BCL- Selebi Phikwe road as part of its corporate social investment programme.
The road is one of the programmes which the mine has been involved with apart from other concerns such as such education, environment and health, which are all done under the banner “Sustainable mining ÔÇô empowering communities”.
The move is part of the mine’s strategy to try to assist those in need and at the same time raise its image among communities that it operates within.
Speaking at the road opening ceremony on Tuesday, the BCL General Manager, Montwedi Mphathi, said the decision was made possible by the improved metal prices largely pushed by copper ÔÇô hungry China and bold cost cutting measures taken by the management of the mine.
“Those familiar with the fortunes of BCL in the last decade recognize that the P 5 million invested in the resurfacing and upgrading of this road represents a very important sacrifice and corporate social investment by BCL,” said Mphathi. “This act might have been unthinkable as recently as two years ago,” he said.
For a number of years, the BCL Mine’s performance has been under a serious whack due to sub-pressed international base mental prices until it was fished out of the mud by the booming China and the rest of Asian countries. At times, shareholders of the mine thought of shutting it down as it made a big hole in their pockets with mounting debt.
The big chucks of the debts are USA dollar denominated which is even made worse by the unstable foreign exchanges.
“BCL produces commodities whose prices are cyclic. We have no control over the metal prices. As a result, our fortunes go up and down with the metal prices. Our competitiveness is, therefore, based on achieving low production costs,” Mphathi added.
He said with the good metal prices, they were able to invest in the road which is used by mine- workers, business communities around Selebi Phikwe and people of Botshabelo ÔÇô a township in the eastern outskirts of Selebi Phikwe Mine.
“A good access road to BCL is vital for the safe movement of goods and people to and from the mine to facilitate efficient operations. However, this road is also used by the public and provides convenient access to a number of facilities for many Selebi Phikwe residents and visitors,” he said.
He said BCL mine is giving a helping hand where it can because it recognises that council and government are tide up on some of the most pressing social issues. Some of the projects that it is involved with are the extension of Mmadinare Hospital, provision of retroviral drugs to mineworkers and their families and plans are afoot to use BCL’s anti- HIV technical support to the wider community.o primary schools which, to date, are the best performing schools in the country. And they have donated drums to council to encourage cleanness in the township.
The MP for Selebi Phikwe East, Nonofo Molefhi, praised BCL for the road saying it equates giving the community a livelihood.
“Looking at the amount of pressure which government is under, the BCL decided to take the initiative to refurbish the road. This shows that business is not only about profit but is also about development,” Molefhi said.
He added that the mine had also taken a keen interest in initiatives that are aimed at diversifying the economy of Selebi Phikwe.