Tati Nickel Mining Company (TNMC) will in the near future engage another mining contractor to take over from Moolman Mining Botswana. TNMC Public Relations Manager, Tebogo Rapitsenyane revealed in an interview that the mine is actively searching for a new contractor to replace Moolman Mining, which recently announced that it will be closing shop and vacating the Tati Nickel plant.
Sunday Standard last week revealed that over 500 employees lost their jobs as Moolman Mining closed down its operations at Tati Nickel following the expiry of its contract with the copper/nickel miner in December. Moolman Mining was engaged to carry out excavation work at TNMC, but the two parties failed to agree on a new contract after the previous one elapsed in December last year.
Asked why TNMC failed to sign a new contract with Moolman Mining, Rapitsenyane said the mining contractor refused to accept the terms of the new contract. He however allayed fears that the departure of Moolman Mining has affected production at TNMC.
“Our contract with Moolman was subject to renewal after every three years. When the contract expired in December last year, we offered them a new contract and they declined to accept it. They didn’t divulge any reasons why. However, production at TNMC has not been affected because we have stockpiles,” said Rapitsenyane.
He revealed that TNMC accumulated stockpiles over four months during the refurbishment of the BCL smelter last year, which the mine will process for export. While production continues at TNMC, the mine’s tender board is currently working around the clock to identify another contractor through a tender process. Rapitsenyane rubbished reports that Moolman Mining refused to renew its contract with TNMC because it was owed millions in unpaid fees. He said the mine has in place payment terms with every company that offers it services.
“Moolman was aware of our financial problems, which were partly caused by a breakdown at the BCL smelter. We were bound to have cash flow problems as we were not exporting our products. The mining contractor was aware of this and how it affected us,” he said.
He however said everything is now back to normal as the smelter is in operation and the company has begun exporting.
BMWU meets Moolman
Meanwhile, the leadership of Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) will on Monday meet with Moolman Mining executives to discuss the way forward regarding the welfare of over 500 employees who were left jobless after the company shut down operations.