Botswana aims for top ten position in mining

Botswana is striving to become one of the top ten mining destinations of choice in the world, Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security minister Sadique Kebonang has said.

Officially opening the 14th Botswana Resource conference held under theme, Deepening investment and diversifying focus in Botswana’s Resource Sector, Sadique said this goal would realised through private sector investment, boosting of investor confidence and will see Botswana emerge as a mining centre of excellence.

Kebonang said they also want to become a net energy exporter within the region as well as to ensure affordable, accessible and sustainable supply of energy to Botswana through multiple sources. He said his ministry will continue to make necessary reviews to legislation and policies to ensure that they are conducive to sustainable mineral exploration, mining and energy development.

“Significant developments have been made that we believe have put us on track to be a mining centre of excellence and to see business thriving in the mineral sector,” he said adding that they have proposed changes in the Mines and Minerals Act, Precious and Semi-Precious Stones Act and Diamond Cutting Act, which will be discussed in the next sitting of parliament.

He said the amendments to these acts were done to achieve the setting up of mine closure funds for rehabilitation, pursue citizen economic empowerment initiatives, ensure safe use of explosives and prevent their use in criminal activities. The amendments also seek to remove trade barriers and increase penalties to deter illegal trade in the diamond sector. The minister said 2017 has started on a good note for the mining sector as the country has seen an encouraging appetite demonstrated by Diamantaires to buy rough diamonds. “There is, however, a rising concern that strong demand and prices were getting ahead of the polished, and this had a potential to compromise the sustainability of the demand manufacturing industry,” said the minister.

He said although performance of the mineral sector has still not recovered from the decline of the mineral commodity prices, the world is  beginning to see a wake of activity, as the prices start to rebound.  “I have been made aware that Mowana Copper Mine has commenced operations in the second quarter of this year. It is our hope that BCL and Tati Nickel Mines also, being the largest employers in the sector will soon find investors and commence operations,” said Kebonang.

He stated that the copper belt in North-West Botswana is an area that the government wishes to encourage investment in as it could provide another opportunity of diversification away from diamonds. He said the ministry is working hard to complete the development of a 400 kilovolts transmission line from Morupule to Maun and is hoping the transmission will support potential mining and business by providing a cheaper and more stable source of power.

http://www.botswanaguardian.co.bw/business/item/2590-botswana-aims-for-top-ten-position-in-mining.html

Botswana to sell off copper, nickel firm

Botswanan copper and nickel producer, BCL Ltd. will be sold off piecemeal after the company failed to find a buyer, its liquidator said on Friday.

BCL was placed under provisional liquidation in October after the government said it could not afford the 7 billion pula (685 million dollars) needed to keep the company running.

“Our first priority is to still try and sell BCL as a going concern, but if that fails we can now sell the assets, which include the smelter and the mine shafts separately,” liquidator Nigel Dixon-Warren of KMPG told Reuters.

Botswana’s oldest and biggest copper mine ran into trouble because of low commodity prices, diminishing ore grades and the ever deeper shafts needed to extract its resources.

BCL owed creditors about one billion pula when it was placed under provisional liquidation.

Dixon-Warren said that potential buyers had been put off by a 271 million dollars lawsuit filed by Norilsk Nickel against BCL over its botched deal to buy a 50 per cent stake in a South African nickel mine from the Russian company.

“We have had some strong interest from many buyers, but the issue of the Norilsk lawsuit has been complicating matters,” Dixon-Warren said.

He said that BCL’s Tati Nickel mine, which it bought from Norilsk had attracted strong interest from potential suitors.

“Botswana’s high court has extended the provisional liquidation of Tati by six months to allow a deal with an unspecified suitor to be concluded,” Dixon-Warren said.

http://tribuneonlineng.com/botswana-sell-off-copper-nickel-firm/

Botswana’s BCL to be sold off piecemeal after sale talks fail

GABORONE (Reuters) – Collapsed state-owned Botswanan copper and nickel producer BCL Limited will be sold off piecemeal after the company failed to find a buyer, its liquidator said on Friday.

BCL was placed under provisional liquidation in October after the government said it could not afford the 7 billion pula ($685 million) needed to keep the company running.

“Our first priority is to still try and sell BCL as a going concern, but if that fails we can now sell the assets, which include the smelter and the mine shafts, separately,” liquidator Nigel Dixon-Warren of KMPG told Reuters.

Botswana’s oldest and biggest copper mine ran into trouble because of low commodity prices, diminishing ore grades and the ever deeper shafts needed to extract its resources.

BCL owed creditors about one billion pula when it was placed under provisional liquidiation.

Dixon-Warren said potential buyers had been put off by a $271 million lawsuit filed by Norilsk Nickel against BCL over its botched deal to buy a 50 percent stake in a South African nickel mine from the Russian company.

“We have had some strong interest from many buyers, but the issue of the Norilsk lawsuit has been complicating matters,” Dixon-Warren said.

He also said BCL’s Tati Nickel mine, which it bought from Norilsk, had attracted strong interest from potential suitors.

Botswana’s high court has extended the provisional liquidation of Tati by six months to allow a deal with an unspecified suitor to be concluded, Dixon-Warren said.

http://af.reuters.com/article/investingNews/idAFKBN1971OE-OZABS

Botswana: Govt Owns Shares in Local Mines

Gaborone — Mines and Minerals Act gives government an option to own 15 per cent shares in new mines, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Minerals, Green Technology and Water Resources, Dr Obolokile Obakeng has said.

Appearing before the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday, Dr Obakeng said the same Act however called for negotiations with regard to shares in diamond mining companies.

Government has a 50 per cent stake in Debswana, with De Beers Company holding the rest and the two entities also own the Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB).

Further, the PS said government had 15 per cent shares in De Beers, with Anglo American owning 85 per cent.

Government fully owns Okavango Diamond Company and Morupule Colliery and also owned BCL Mine, which has been placed under provisional liquidation.

Specially elected MP, Ms Bogolo Kenewendo wanted to know if government had shares in mines operating in the country.

The PS said the Minerals Development Company of Botswana (MDCB) had been tasked with managing government’s assets in the mining industry and these would be transferred to the company.

However, the MDCB does not have a structure in place, and its founding chief executive officer (CEO), Mr Paul Smith left the company after his contract was not renewed.

Dr Obakeng said they parted with Mr Smith last month for a number of reasons, among them lack of consultation and poor relationship between the CEO and the company board of governors.

He said when decisions were to be made, consultations were not properly done, leading to the CEO making decisions alone.

Dr Obakeng told PAC that the MDCB board was intact, but the board chairperson had resigned for unknown reasons.

He said while the strategy was being developed, the guidelines were adequate.

The PS said government made the decision to place BCL Mine under provisional liquidation and that the liquidator was working on the process assisted by the MDCB.

He said the mines had been placed under care and maintenance, but was not in a position to state whether its assets were depreciating.

The decision to place the copper/nickel mine under provisional liquidation resulted from low commodity prices and further, BCL was heavily indebted, he said.

Gaborone Bonnington South MP, Mr Ndaba Gaolathe asked if the process did not need a legislature to which the PS said did not think was required since they were doing everything right.

Dr Obakeng said they were trying to woo potential investors to take over the mine.

He explained that the liquidation process could not wait for the MDCB strategy as it had its own merits.

Permanent secretary said P980 million had been invested for care and maintenance of BCL Mine by government, adding that the liquidator’s charges were not a lump sum, but had paid P27 million to date.

Dr Obakeng also told PAC that his ministry had begun preparations for re-negotiations with De Beers over the mining licences and diamond sales agreement.

He said the whole preparatory process would take eight months to complete and a steering committee had been identified.

MP Gaolathe asked if they intended to keep the contract a secret and the PS said he was not in a position to comment on the matter. Dr Obakeng said the sales agreement expires in 2020 while the mining licences for Debswana mines expires in 2029.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201706080694.html

Over P27million paid to BCL liquidator

 

 

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday (Tuesday) heard how government has already spent a little over P27million to pay for the services of Nigel Dixon-Warren, the appointed BCL provisional liquidator.

Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Obolokile Obakeng, confirmed this to the PAC bench.

He said “although the liquidator has not charged government any specific amount because they charge as per the specific milestone and achievements, they have so far paid the liquidators up to P27 412 408,95.”

He further added that government has poured a staggering P980million into the care and maintenance for putting BCL under provisional liquidation.

Obakeng also revealed that at the moment Dixon-Warren is working with the Mineral Development Company Botswana (MDCB) to find a solution and decide on the fate of the BCL mine.

Meanwhile Obakeng also revealed that the MCDB has parted ways with its CEO, Paul Smith. Smith has been replaced by Sebetlela Sebetlela as the Acting CEO.

He said that the Ministry decided to part ways with Smith because of his “problematic undertaking of his job. “He no longer consulted the board nor created the necessary conversation in decision making in relation to the board,” he said.

https://thevoicebw.com/68017-2/

Sale of Bots liquidated oldest copper mine teeters

GABORONE – The government said it will make a final decision on the future of BCL mines on June 15 after an exclusivity period granted to a suitor, Emirates Investment House (EIH), lapsed without an offer.

Minerals Minister Sadique Kebonang said government has not agreed to any deal with the Dubai based company and dismissed recent reports that government has signed a deal with EIH.

Kebonang also said government will not give away its assets for free, adding that they are still open to any offers.

The provisional liquidator of BCL Group – the holding company for BCL copper and nickel mine – Nigel Dixon-Warren of KPMG – recently told Mmegi newspaper that the exclusivity period with EIH lapsed at the end of April and it now appeared the Emirati firm would not be making an offer.

“Since no offer was received before end of April, we have reopened bidding to any other interested investors. Already we have had one company from the region that has expressed interest to buy part or all of the BCL mine assets,” Dixon-Warren is quoted as saying.

According to the paper, through a memorandum of understanding signed in February, Botswana offered BCL to EIH for a token price of $1 with the Dubai firm in turn taking over BCL’s debts.

At the time it was placed under provisional liquidation in October last year, BCL owed creditors about one billion pula ($97,30 million), while Russia’s  Norilsk Nickel was demanding $271 million from the state-owned mining company over a botched deal to buy a 50 percent stake in South Africa’s Nkomati Mine.

It has since emerged that the liquidator of BCL has received a high level offer from a company within the SADC region, which is interested in primarily buying Tati Mine (subsidiary of BCL) at this stage and possibly BCL when the final liquidation takes place.

According to Dixon-Warren, EIH had been granted an exclusivity period, which lapsed at the end of April and the process was now open to other suitors.

“EIH had an exclusivity period until April 30, 2017 where they were the only company we were dealing with.

“Since I am not aware of an offer EIH made within that period we have opened the bidding to everyone for the sake of the creditors,” he said.

“I have since received a bid from another company that is only interested in Tati Mine for now and maybe other assets at a later stage,” Dixon-Warren is further quoted as saying.

With a second bidder now in the picture, Dixon-Warren said it would be up to the creditors to decide which offer was most competitive.

“Whatever offer will be made, the creditors will have the final decision. But with the current lawsuits that have been instituted by Norilsk, we might have to engage the Russians to allow us to sell if we get a firm offer,” said Dixon-Warren, who declined to name the second bidder.

https://southernafrican.news/2017/06/05/sale-of-bots-liquidated-oldest-copper-mine-teeters/

Norilsk-BCL dispute threatens Botswana’s reputation

 

The dispute between Russia’s Norilsk Nickel and the Botswana government and other parties over the commitment made by BCL – now in provisional liquidation – in 2014 to purchase Norilsk’s African assets seems to be developing into one of the messiest disagreements over mining assets yet seen in the Southern African region. According to Norilsk, it even threatens Botswana’s reputation as being one of the best mining ‘destinations’ in Africa.

Michael Marriott, CEO of Norilsk Nickel Africa.

Norilsk maintains that the Botswana government, the ultimate owner of BCL, has deliberately walked away from a 2014 deal in terms of which BCL agreed to purchase Norilsk’s 85 %-owned Tati Nickel operation east of Francistown, as well as Norilsk’s 50 % share in South Africa’s Nkomati nickel mine in the Barberton area. As part of the deal, BCL also undertook to smelt concentrate from Nkomati in its smelter at Selebi-Phikwe.

BCL’s motivation for concluding the deal was the clear synergies between its operations centered on the town of Selebi-Phikwe, which include an underground nickel/copper mine and the smelter (neither now functioning), and Norilsk’s operations at Tati Nickel and Nkomati. The proposed acquisition formed part of its ‘Polaris II’ diversification and investment strategy designed to secure the long-term future of the company.

For its part, Norilsk was keen to sell Tati Nickel and Nkomati following a decision by its management in 2012 that the group would withdraw from all its foreign investments (with the exception of an enterprise in Finland) and focus on its core Russian operations.

Tati Phoenix PitThe Phoenix pit at Tati Nickel, one of the assets transferred to BCL as a result of the deal. The mine is no longer operational.

Commenting on the turn of events since the transaction was agreed in 2014, Michael Marriott, Norilsk Nickel Africa’s CEO, says the deal appeared to be proceeding according to plan until the second half of 2016. “We thought the deal was in the bag and indeed BCL, prior to its being put into liquidation in October last year, had already taken occupation of the Tati Nickel mine and, at least for a period, continued mining and processing operations as normal. In August last year the final approvals necessary for the agreement to become unconditional were received from the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) in South Africa and we were confident that the sale process had effectively been concluded,” he states.

“In September we asked for payment from BCL, citing the terms of the Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA), but this was not forthcoming and then in October we heard via the media that the government had decided to liquidate BCL. Since then, despite repeated contact with the various parties involved with the transaction, including the liquidator, Nigel Dixon-Warren, and the authorities in Botswana, all our attempts to resolve the matter have been unsuccessful.”

The amount that Norilsk claims it is owed is substantial. The purchase price agreed to by BCL in 2014 was US$337 million (the bulk of it for the Nkomati shareholding) although this was later renegotiated downwards to approximately US$277 million – a concession made by Norilsk at the urging of BCL and the Botswana government.

In December last year Norilsk filed an application with the Gaborone High Court seeking leave to have its claim in terms of the SPA to be referred to arbitration and to prevent any final liquidation order being made final until the conclusion of such arbitration. Under the terms of the Sales and Purchase Agreement, all disputes between the parties are to be referred to the London Court of International Arbitration.

The results of this legal process are still pending. In the meantime, the liquidator of BCL has filed in the South African courts for a judicial review of the South African government’s approval of the SPA on the grounds that such authorisation should not have been granted as BCL did not fulfil the requirements to be a shareholder in the Nkomati mine. Norilsk, for its part, has served notice that it intends to sue the Government of Botswana in the Botswanan courts for its involvement in the “reckless trading” of BCL.

To complicate matters even further, the liquidator has received offers for BCL’s assets from at least two parties – one being Emirates Investment House (EIH), an Abu Dhabi-based group, and the other, according to the media in Botswana, an unnamed company from within the SADC region.

Marriott says the conduct of the liquidator has given Norilsk cause for concern. “In theory, the liquidator should be protecting the interests of creditors. We are BCL’s biggest creditor but we most certainly don’t believe that the liquidator is looking after our interests.”

The BCL assets potentially have considerable life left in them. The underground nickel/copper mine at Selebi-Phikwe still has exploitable reserves and would probably be viable at a higher nickel price while the BCL smelter in the town is an extremely valuable, regionally significant asset, the more so since it was recently refurbished at a cost of around 700 million Pula.

“This, incidentally, is another puzzling feature of this whole affair,” comments Marriott. “Why was this major refurbishment programme undertaken if BCL was in financial trouble? Indeed, the fact that it did proceed, presumably with the approval of the Government of Botswana, was one of the things that led us to believe – right until the point that BCL was put into liquidation – that we had a sound deal in place with BCL.”

He adds that throughout the process – from 2014 on – Norilsk’s understanding has been that the Government of Botswana was fully supportive of the transaction and was the de facto guarantor of it.

Marriott also points out that the Tati Nickel assets are in good shape. “The Phoenix pit needs a cutback to continue on a long-term basis but the Tati Nickel property also hosts the Selkirk orebody, which represents a major open-pit resource, as well as some valuable exploration targets that could add to the overall resource basis. In addition, the mine has a superb processing plant which includes a modern DMS pre-concentrator.”

BCL initiated a full Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS) on the Selkirk orebody in February 2016. Selkirk was originally the site of an underground mine, which started up in 1989. The high-grade massive sulphide orebody was exhausted by 2002 and in 2002 Selkirk was closed. The purpose of the BFS was to examine a restart of operations based on the open-pit mining of the disseminated sulphides which were not exploited by the underground mine.

As regards Nkomati, Marriott says that operations there have been unaffected by the liquidation of BCL. “In the absence of the BCL deal being concluded, our 50:50 joint venture with ARM remains in place and the mine continues to perform very efficiently, although it is challenged by the current nickel price. It’s a fine asset, although we remain committed to selling our stake.”

Summing up, Marriott says the entire saga has been extremely disappointing for Norilsk, which only invested in Botswana because it regarded the country as a sound mining jurisdiction. “Botswana has long been regarded as one of Africa’s most desirable mining destinations and over the years it has consistently scored very highly in the Fraser Institute survey, which ranks countries around the world in terms of their attractiveness to mining investors,” he observes. “I fear, however, that this reputation, based on Norilsk’s experience over the past few months, is very much at risk. We nevertheless remain hopeful that a positive outcome can be achieved and we are certainly open to constructive negotiations with the Government of Botswana and other interested parties.”

http://crown.co.za/latest-news/modern-mining-latest-news/4527-norilsk-bcl-dispute-threatens-botswana-s-reputation

Botswana continues to value exploration activity, mining

Exploration for minerals in diamond- dependent Botswana continues despite the tough economic conditions its mining industry faces, which has impacted negatively on the country’s economic health, says mining and exploration organisation Botswana Chamber of Mines CEO Charles Siwawa.

These minerals, he outlines, include coal, copper, silver, lead, zinc, manganese and iron-ore, and remain attractive because of “the volumes of ore being uncovered and as they are economical to exploit”.

He notes that financial analysts assure the chamber that Botswana’s mineral net worth still has some positive contributions to make to the country’s economy.

“There is reason to believe that, while mining is taking place – implying a reduced net worth – prospecting for minerals continues to uncover more economic mineral deposits.”

Some of these, he adds, will have the potential to replace the value that has been taken out of the ground.

To improve the mineral net worth of Botswana, Siwawa notes that enabling policies within government structures encourage mining investment from an exploration and acquisition perspective.

“These policies will have to be alive to the ever-changing world economic and business situation to ensure the flow of investment, into rather than out of, the country.”

Botswana’s mining industry, however, still faces challenges, such as the high input costs associated with mining processes and lower-grade deposits, which position its operations at the higher end of the cost curve.

These challenges, Siwawa explains, can be mitigated by mines reviewing their operations to make them more efficient and productive, thereby lowering running costs.

“The global minerals market is quite volatile, causing those operations at the high end of the cost curve to decrease production at the slightest change in commodity prices.”

Siwawa notes that commodity prices remained subdued for most of the last 12 months; however, indications are that the market is picking up, as an increase has been observed in the coal, copper and nickel prices seemingly pointing towards stabilisation of the market.

“Should there be an upswing in commodity prices, such as that of diamonds and coal, the country’s economy will rebound.”

Mining, he notes, contributes 34% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 50% of its taxes.

He stresses that it is also imperative that Botswana develop beneficiation as a value-add to the overall mineral process chain.

The industry is considering the beneficiation of any mineral to create employment and boost the country’s economy. The country’s diamond cutting and polishing industry is an example of such beneficiation efforts, involving companies like Diacore Botswana and Eurostar Botswana.

“The diamond beneficiation success has been lukewarm, as some factories [started] operational activities but relocated within a short space of time, while the others that remain have had some success,” Siwawa notes, adding that base metals and coal have also been identified for beneficiation.

The need for beneficiation has been identified primarily owing to the low commodity prices, he explains, but adds that any mineral beneficiation should be considered, provided it makes economic sense.

“The downturn will, [however], come to pass and the industry will be back on its feet once more,” he enthuses, emphasising that there are still high expectations for the mining industry, which continues to drive Botswana’s economy.

However, the significance of this industry has dimmed over the years – primarily as a result of the resurgence of other sectors of the economy, such as tourism and financial services.

Speaking to Mining Weekly, Siwawa explains that the muted growth of the country’s mining sector is partly, ironically, the result of government’s efforts to diversify away from the industry.

Botswana’s base metals sector, for instance, is nonexistent, owing to the temporary closure of existing mines, with only the Mowana African Copper mine, owned by mining company African Copper, in Francistown, attempting to resume production. The mine was acquired in 2017 through an entity that bought the liquidated company.

“All the other base metal mines in Botswana are either on care and maintenance or have been shut down,” states Siwawa, highlighting that the base metals sector has the significant critical mass needed to anchor the beneficiation process in Botswana.

Preparations are being undertaken to restart copper ore company Discovery Metals’ copper and silver mine, through copper mine company Khoemacau, which it bought after Discovery Metals’ liquidation.

A 600 km power line is being constructed to supply electricity to the Khoemacau copper mine.

Current trends are pointing towards the stabilisation of Botswana’s mining sector, despite it having lost a significant number of employees owing to the closure of mines since 2014 – for example, the African Copper mine, and Botswana State-run mining company BCL’s Tati Nickel mine.

Confidence Boost

Botswana has been named the most attractive economy in Africa, scoring highly on factors that include an improved credit rating, current account ratio, import cover and ease of doing business in the country.

This is according to Africa Investment Index 2016, compiled by investment management and advisory services provider Quantum Global’s independent research arm, Quantum Global Research Lab.

This rating, Siwawa believes, is a welcome boost to the country’s economy: “This will certainly improve the flow of investment funds into the country, aimed at all levels of the business community. It can only be good business for Botswana.”

The minerals industry, he adds, still plays a significant role in the development of the economy and should be encouraged to drive the country further in its development path.

http://www.miningweekly.com/article/botswana-continues-to-value-exploration-activity-mining-2017-05-26

EIH makes no offer

SELEBI-PHIKWE: BCL Mine provisional liquidator, Nigel Dixon-Warren has issued a memo indicating that Emirates Investment House (EIH) will not be making any offer.

The memo that was issued on Sunday shows that the liquidator is now in the process of writing to all parties that have expressed interest in buying all or the majority of the assets of the BCL Group.

“If not, the companies will go into final liquidation and the assets will be sold,” he stated in the memo.

He added that this will not affect the care and maintenance operations in the short to medium term, however, it may be that additional parties may be coming to BCL and Tati Nickel mines to conduct site visits.

The provisional liquidator said the liquidation order was extended on May 14 this year for a further 30 days to June 15, 2017.

He explained that the justification for the extension was that the interested party had not yet completed its assessment of the companies and government was prepared to allow some extra time for it to do so.

“Another party has also submitted an expression of interest to me in all or part of the businesses of the BCL Group and this offer was of sufficient seriousness to warrant a request for a limited further extension.

“Although I have not received any formal notification to the effect, it now appears that the interested party that came on site in March and April will not be making an offer,” he added.

He explained that there have been reports that EIH had signed a memorandum of understanding with government for the purchase of BCL Mine.

He stated

that what is being referred to, is an agreement that was signed in February between government and the party.  He noted that the agreement was on the basis for the party to conduct its due diligence and it was not a share purchase agreement.

This comes at a time when everybody was convinced that the EIH has almost completed the purchase of the BCL Group.  In response, Dixon- Warren told Mmegi that he is not part of the negotiations with EIH and that he does not know what the actual status is and referred all enquiries to the ministry and Minerals Development Company Botswana.

“I am not aware of any offer from EIH and the period of exclusivity has expired hence I am seeking other interested parties,” he added.

A highly placed source in government has indicated that there had always been doubts about EIH’s ability to successfully operate the BCL Mine because of alleged lack of mining background and the fact that BCL is generally a complex mining operation.

Botswana Mine Workers Union’s general secretary, Moffat Ramokate expressed disappointment at the events and said the union has just been reduced to spectators instead of being treated as an interested party in the BCL issue.

He said there has never been any consultation with the union.

“We only heard about EIH deal in the streets and the issue appears to be between the liquidator and government and we suspect foul play by those in authority,” he said.

http://www.mmegi.bw/index.php?aid=69045&dir=2017/may/24

Bidding for Botswana’s BCL Group reopened after no offer from suitor

GABORONE, May 23 (Reuters) – Bidding for BCL Group, which owns Botswana’s largest copper and nickel mine, has been reopened to other investors after an exclusivity period granted to a suitor, Emirates Investment House (EIH) lapsed without an offer.

The provisional liquidator of BCL Group – the holding company for BCL copper and nickel mine – Nigel Dixon-Warren of KPMG told Reuters the exclusivity period with EIH lapsed at the end of April and it now appeared the Emirati firm would not be making an offer.

“Since no offer was received before end of April, we have reopened bidding to any other interested investors. Already we have had one company from the region that has expressed interest to buy part or all of the BCL mine assets,” Dixon-Warren said.

Through a memorandum of understanding signed in February, Botswana offered BCL to EIH for a token price of $1 with the Emirati firm in turn taking over BCL’s debts.

At the time it was placed under provisional liquidation in October last year, BCL owed creditors about one billion pula ($97.30 million), while Russia’s Norilsk Nickel is demanding $271 million from the state-owned mining company over a botched deal to buy a 50 percent stake in South Africa’s Nkomati Mine.

The provisional liquidation of BCL Group was last week postponed to June 15 by the High Court. ($1 = 10.2775 pulas) (Reporting by Johannesburg Newsroom; editing by Susan Thomas)

http://af.reuters.com/article/botswanaNews/idAFL8N1IP602