Wednesday, May 18, 2022

From Mowana to Kopano Mine – forever changing hands

Mowana Mine has changed the business name from Mowana to Kopano Mine, however the mining licence remains unchanged under Leboam Holdings (Pty) Ltd. This is according to minister responsible for minerals mining – Lefoko Moagi.

Moagi was responding to a question from the Nata/Gweta constituency Member of Parliament – Paulson Majaga who wanted Moagi to brief Parliament on the takeover of Mowana Mine by Kopano Mining.

In response, Moagi said that the change of name does not affect anything in operations or structure of the company as it was just for rebranding purposes.

Leobam Holdings operated Mowana Mine from April 2017 until December 2018 after it revived it from yet another liquidation dating back to 2015. Messina Copper Botswana (Pty) Ltd the previous holder of the mining license for Mowana Mine was placed under provisional liquidation in November 2015, with the final liquidation order granted on 15 December 2015. On 16 January 2017, the High Court ordered that the mining licence for Mowana Mine as well other mineral concessions held by ‘Messina Copper Botswana (Pty) Ltd in Liquidation’ be transferred to Leboam Holdings (Pty) Ltd. The licenses were transferred.

Following the suspension of its operations at Mowana Mine mid October 2015, the mining contractor, Diesel Power Limited then approached the High Court to have Messina Copper (Botswana), a subsidiary of African Copper liquidated. The previous owner, Messina Copper (Botswana) then suspended operations at the Mine, putting close to 400 workers on paid leave and ultimately axing them.

Official records show that from January 2017, the company deducted pay as you earn (PAYE) worth about P6 million from its 450 or so workers, but did not pass it along to the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS). Workers were also owed a collective P7.2 million for unpaid salaries dating back to October 2018, as well as historical bonuses.

The report, produced after a preliminary assessment by Mowana Mine’s provisional judicial manager, John Hinchliffe paints a picture of widespread cutting of corners by managers, who played fast and loose with accounting policies in order to keep the operation going at all costs.

This week, Moagi told Parliament that Max Power Mining has been contracted to mine at Mowana Mine through the Compromise Scheme.

“The scheme of compromise (pursuant to Part XV and XVI of the Companies Act of Botswana) is intended to compromise the company’s obligations with respect to the creditors with a view of restoring the company to solvency. This will in turn trigger the cancellation of the Judicial Management Order and the company will be returned to the hands of the shareholders,” said Moagi.

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