Monday, June 1, 2020

Molale, BCL liquidator feud heads to court

Visibly with pain in his face, Minerals Minister ÔÇô Eric Molale has told Parliament that the government has launched a formal application with the High Court to have the BCL liquidator ÔÇô Nigel Dixon-Warren removed from his position.

“I had hoped not to say this…but we have applied through our lawyer to the courts to say we belief the liquidator be removed.” Molale told Parliament on Thursday.

He added: “We believe that instead he should be replaced as our relationship with him has broken down irretrievably. We have applied for the judicial management of liquidation in relation to the assets of the facility.”

Since being appointed minerals minister last year, Molale has been fighting day and night to have the BCL mine back to the hands of government.

The mine together with other subsidiaries of the BCL group was put under liquidation more than two years back resulting in loss of thousands of jobs.

The liquidation process has however been marred by what appears to be a fallout between Molale and Nigel Dixon-Warren – the court appointed liquidator.

Since holding the fort of the Ministry last year, Molale has not shied away from telling Parliament and the public was fed up with the operations of liquidator whose relationship with him according to the legislator has “broken down irretrievably.”

He repeated the words Thursday several times and as he eventually disclosed a new twist of development to remove Dixon-Warren through “judicial management of liquidation” process.

Relations were strained last year when both parties clashed on the duration of the liquidation process, with the government piling pressure on Dixon-Warren to come up with a definite date on the winding up of BCL assets. However, the liquidator said it was a complicated process that could take up to seven years to conclude.

At the same time, while the two men tussle, global Copper and nickel prices are reported to have improved after a slump in 2016, with mining companies with interests in those commodities making profits.

Faced with the dwindling commodity prices, and rising operating costs, the cash-strapped Botswana government made an abrupt decision: BCL Group, made of BCL limited and Tati Nickel Mining Company, were placed in provisional liquidation by order of the High Court of Botswana on 9 October 2016.

Since the closure of the mines, prices for copper and nickel have slightly rebounded. From 2016 to 2019, copper prices were up 27 percent, and nickel increased 38.8 percent. Despite the recovery in prices, the government says the circumstances at the time forced their hand to close the loss makings mines.

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