Polaris II strategy to speed up diversification
Copper and Nickel mining giants, BCL Limited, have embarked on an ambitious corporate strategy known as Polaris II, to transform the mine into a diversified enterprise.
The mine has experienced a decline trend since 1995 due to depletion of large zone ore body and the ever increasing depth of operations at the Phikwe Central shaft.
The contribution of the shaft to the total BCL production has since dropped drastically from 77% in 1985 to the current 35%.
Measures have since been put in place to mitigate a possible depletion of resources in 2007.
The lifespan of the mine was further extended beyond 2013 through an internal exploration programme.
While a mining plan has since been prepared to ensure that BCL operations continue beyond 2020, the admirable Polaris II strategy has also been adopted to diversify the company into a multi-portfolio enterprise that will take over from the existing mining operations and guarantee a future, not only for shareholders, but also for the employees.
BCL Board Chairperson, Dr Akolang Tombale, was on Thursday confident of the success of the Polaris II strategy as he told a visiting media team that the strategy would transform BCL from just a mine threatened with closure, into a competent and diversified mining and related enterprise.
“The strategy has six themes or thrusts and these are; to expand and sustain nickel production circuit, to develop a copper production circuit, to develop a coal production and beneficiation circuit, to develop a chemicals and by-product production circuit as well as a precious metals and other minerals production circuit,” he said.
Dr Tombale said with regard to the Iron production circuit, BCL has made progress through the establishment of Pula Steel casting and manufacturing plant which is expected to start operating in the next six to eight months.
“This plant is a springboard for developing the iron production circuit which will curb the over reliance of import of steel and steel related products,” he said.
Dr Tomabale said the current exploration work which commenced in 2012 under Polaris II was aimed at increasing and diversifying BCL’s mineral resource base in Botswana and the Southern African region at large.
To achieve their goal, Tombale said BCL has been aggressively acquiring prime exploration ground in the form of own prospecting licences and joint venture partnerships.
The BCL Chairman said BCL has joint ventured with companies holding prospective exploration ground within 100km of the mine.
“Of note are Botswana Metals Limited (BML), on the Magogaphate nickel, copper and silver deposit and Discovery Metals Limited (DML) and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) on the Dikoloti prospect,” he said.
BCL holds four prospecting licences in the Ghanzi Copper Belt where they have partnerships with nine other companies.
The company is highly active with Greenfields exploration work and Tombale says they have made significant progress with soil sampling and induced polarisation including high resolution magnetics that have been completed.
Other exploration activities include the iron ore and manganese drilling in Mahalapye and Lerala.
Further afield, BCL has embarked on extensive exploration for copper, goal and nickel an Zambia and Zimbabwe. “Plans to extend BCL’s footprint to South Africa and Namibia are being explored.
These efforts will unequivocally give BCL an enterprise status and will ensure continued growth and sustainability of BCL operations beyond 2020,” Dr Tombale said.
Meanwhile plans are underway at BCL Limited to build a copper smelter and refinery plant to facilitate the beneficiation of copper in Botswana and the region.