Friday, August 12, 2022

BCL sees no alternative to Polaris II as it fights to keep Selebi- Phikwe alive

Following the success of Are Chencheng, BCL is entering the next stage named Polaris II, that will see the copper-nickel producer transforming into an internationally recognised mining company.

The revised strategy, which is the continuation of the first one that started in 2007, will see the company becoming an enterprise that will diversify its product offering, but mindful of the environment.

“If we do nothing different and continue to operate BCL as it is today, then at some stage BCL will stop,” Mack William, the company’s Senior Manager Strategy Alignment said.

The Are Chencheng strategy, which calls for change in the way the mine does things, was formulated after realising that costs were rising in US/ pound terms while production was going down.

And with Polaris II, the aim is to diversify the company from its current operations to an enterprise that offers a wide range of businesses in resources and chemicals industry.

“This is the future of BCL,” the company revealed. The Selebi-Phikwe based outfit is currently a mining and smelting company that employs about 4, 500 workers.

It is owned 96.4 percent by government of Botswana and 3.6 percent by Norilsk Nickel and produces copper and nickel matte, which is sold to refineries in Zimbabwe and Norway, thus exporting jobs that could have been created locally.

BCL also does smelting for Tati Nickel, a mining company based in Francistown

Under Polaris II, William said the dream is to turn Selebi-Phikwe into a top mining address and centre of beneficiation.

The idea is also to see BCL owning its own refinery, chasing acquisitions and exploration in copper belts.

“Under Polaris, we want to do things that will keep BCL for ever,” William said. “The current business can generate cash flow for the next 10- 15 years and we can optimise on current reserves by improving the resource of BCL.”

Previously a debt ridden concern, the company is said to have cash reserves in the region of P3 billion, which will give it the war chest needed for acquisitions and exploration.

BCL is bullish it can implement the new strategy looking at its track record as a leading underground in the country and the region.

William said the company has been in the business for forty years and it has the skills to be a globally recognised player.

BCL currently mines four shafts with a proven resource that can take the mine life to between 10- 15 years, but through its strategies, the miner wants to keep transform.

A coping study to produce a long term mine plan was completed in June 2010. BCL’s current projected life-of-mine (LOM) is 2014.

With scoping studies indicating that with deeper mining/exploration, LOM can be extended to 2024. It is imperative to increase production and grade and to improve efficiencies in order to secure profitability beyond 2014.

“We have no option, but to do something. We are doing a large scale transformation,” said William.
“It is no longer an option, but an imperative.”

BCL has, since 2004, been doing exploration work in order to find ore resource to extend the life of the mine beyond 2013.

During this period, several exploration techniques were used resulting in the delineation of mineral resource extension with stand alone deposits discovered at Selebi Central located between Selebi and Selebi North.

“This is the BCL dream. BCL needs to undergo a transformation by improving in every way the business is conducted to ensure sustained profitability.”

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