BINDURA Nickel Corporation (BNC) managing director Batirai Manhando will leave the resources firm at the end of this month, seven years into the role that saw him manage shareholder wrangles and oversee a complex care and maintenance operation.

BY SHAME MAKOSHORI

The former Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CoMZ) president was replaced by mining engineer Thomas Lusiyano yesterday.

However, a statement from BNC said he would stay on for a three-week transitional phase until November 30.

“Mr Batirai Manhando steps down as managing director to pursue personal interests,” said BNC chairperson Muchadeyi Masunda.

“Mr Manhando has been with the company in various capacities for close to 30 years, the last seven of which he served as the managing director. During his stint, he actively participated in overseeing the recovery and growth of the company and played a pivotal leadership role through various transitions, including care and maintenance (2008 to 2012) as well as the rights offer and private placement process which was concluded in September 2012.”

Masunda said Manhando would be leaving behind a stable and profitable operation.

“The company has been stable and profitable since then. Mr Thomas Lusiyano takes over as managing director with effect from November 9, 2020. Mr Lusiyano is a qualified mining engineer who has vast experience at senior level in different private and public sector companies where he saved as mine manager, general manager, managing director and chief executive,” he said.

Manhando’s impressive record at BNC came under the spotlight when shareholder wrangles intensified during his tenure, triggering a 2016 forensic audit that exposed irregularities linked to Chinese executives at Freda Rebecca Gold Mine and BNC.

The audit exposed shocking evidence of asset stripping and possible looting of millions of dollars, but left Manhando untainted.

Reports at the time said the mining executive also survived a boardroom coup.

Soon after calming down tempers at BNC, Manhando was elected president of the CoMZ in 2017, deputised by current president Elizabeth Nerwande-Chibanda as the first vice-president.

At CoMZ, his biggest challenge was to cool off the turbulences after the US$2 billion industry haemorrhaged under serious power shortages.

He worked round the clock to convince government to prioritise the mining industry in the provision of power, while also keeping authorities under close watch at the tail end of an asset expropriation programme under the late former President Robert Mugabe.

During the year ended March 30, 2020, BNC’s turnover declined to US$52,4 million, 1% lower than a US$54 million turnover during the same period last year.

“This was in sync with the decrease in sales tonnage referred to above. Cost of sales decreased from US$40,3 million last year to US$37,7 million in the year under review, mainly due to lower production,” the firm said.

“However, operating profit decreased by 86% to US$2,8 million, compared to the prior year’s achievement of US$20,2 million.

“This profit erosion was mainly attributable to reduction in the net foreign exchange gains recognised on the introduction of the Zimbabwean dollar in the prior year amounting to US$17 million, versus US$0,5 million realised in the year under review. However, profit and total comprehensive income of US$0,9 million, was higher than prior year restated amount.”

Gross profit increased by 7% from US$13,7 million to US$14,7 million this year.

BNC sunk a total of US$5,1 million into capital expenditure during the period, as it continued to undertake various capital projects at the mine, including a shaft re-deepening, exploration drilling and the smelter restart, which was 83% complete in September.

“Total capital expenditure for the year was US$5,1 million, mainly in respect of the following projects: shaft re-deepening, new dump trucks and exploration drilling. The smelter restart project is still at 83 percent complete while the refinery and Shangani Mine remained under care and maintenance,” the nickel mining firm said.

During the full year under review, BNC sold 5 685 tonnes of nickel concentrate, which was lower that the 6 410 tonnes sold during the comparative period in 2019.

The 11% decrease in sales tonnage was in line with production, which was lower than the prior year’s output.

Do you have a coronavirus story? You can email us on: news@alphamedia.co.zw