Tati Nickel Mine General Manager, Seb Sebetlela, on Friday expressed confidence that the mining giant will remain afloat despite the challenges posed by the global recession.
Speaking at a media briefing on Friday, Sebetlela said that, while the company continues to face daunting challenges, like relatively low and fluctuating nickel prices, added to depressed market demand, they have instituted measures that will see them surviving the financial doldrums that the company was faced with at the beginning of the year.
“We are still confident that the strategies that we put in place will see us through these difficult times. Every day we learn from the challenges that are posed by the credit crunch and we have optimized our operations to ensure that we survive these challenges,” he said.
Tati Nickel has reportedly surpassed its targets for the first quarter of 2009, largely due to restructuring and cost cutting measures.
“In response to the global recession, we had to respond by containing our operating costs through rationalizing our inputs, negotiating with suppliers and labour optimization,” he said. Shortly after taking the helm as general manager at the beginning of the year, during which the credit crunch was at its worst with base metal prices at the lowest, Sebetlela instituted stringent measures to tailor Tati Nickel’s operations and reduce operating costs.
“At times like these, there are no guarantees and the best that we can do is to ensure that we survive. The onus lies upon us as players in this industry to ensure that we remain standing when the situation normalizes,” he said at the time.
With apparent reference to retrenchment, Sebetlela said at the time that Tati Nickel management is forced to contemplate other “drastic measures” that they would “never even think about in the normal scheme of things”. He would later institute a voluntary separation exercise that has reportedly been embraced by a number of employees at the mine. The exercise came to an end on May 15, and indications are that should the need arise, management will go the retrenchment route.
Sebetlela inherited a mine that was reportedly inundated with lackadaisical operations some of which have resulted in millions of the mining giant’s revenues going to waste and indications are that he immediately instituted cost cutting measures that saw some of the mining giant’s extravagant operations being shelved.
Indications are that Tati Nickel has weathered the storm and, though it is not yet out of the woods, prospects are not as gloomy as they were at the beginning of the year. Market projections also point to an expected increase in metal prices towards the end on 2009 going into early 2010 boosted by increased demand in China and the United States.
Sebetlela is the fourth general manager of Tati Nickel and the first citizen general manager. He has a wealth of experience in the mining industry, having worked for close to 30 years at Debswana.