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Hundreds of Zimbabweans Jobless as Botswana Mine Shuts Down

Workers at the BCL company in Selibe Phikwe, Botswana.

Some Zimbabweans employed by a copper and nickel mine in Botswana have been left in a lurch after the mine shut down over the weekend due to viability problems.

BCL mine, which used to advertise in the Zimbabwean press for artisans, employed at least 1,000 Zimbabweans during its annual refurbishment of its smelter plant in the country’s Selebi-Phikwe town, about 452 kilometers north-east of the capital, Gaborone.

An additional 200 Zimbabweans were employed on a permanent or contractual basis at the mine.

According to some of the mine employees, most of the workers were drawn from the collapsed Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, which used to be a top world player in the steel industry.

One of the affected Zimbabweans, Stan Ncube, said they are now jobless and cannot think of going back home to look for work as Zimbabwe has an unemployment rate estimated by independent economists to be about 90 percent.

The government has put the unemployment rate at about 11 percent, which has been dismissed by economists as too low for a nation with collapsing industries and over-subscribed informal sector.

The Bostwana government says the company was shut down due to high costs of mining copper and nickel.