Gupta Owned Optimum Coal Is Up For Sale: CEO

PICTURE: Nigel Sibanda

MPUMALANGA: Optimum Coal mine management says it has plans in place to ensure the sale of the Gupta owned mine in Mpumalanga.

It’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) George van der Merwe addressed striking workers, following demonstration by workers, who said they are concerned about their future.

Mine workers at the Gupta owned mine downed tools on Wednesday demanding answers on the mines’ future following Bank of Baroda’s announcement that it planned to end its relationship with the Guptas.

Several contractors have also not been paid by the mine, which is owned by Tegeta a company whose directors are former president Jacob Zuma‘s son Duduzane Zuma, Salim Essa and the Gupta family

The family and their associates Essa and Zuma controversially bought the mine in 2016. This was after former owner Glencore put the mine into business rescue and was forced, allegedly by foul play, to sell the mine.

[MUST READ]: Bank Of Baroda To Close South African Operations

On Wednesday, mine workers and contractors at the Optimum mine in Pullen’s Hope, Mpumalanga, went on strike, demanding urgent intervention from government. It is alleged that Optimum is in arrears with salaries and supplier payments.

AmaBhungane has now confirmed from company records that Optimum Coal Mine, Koornfontein Mines and Optimum Coal Terminal have been placed into business rescue.  The identity of the business rescue practitioners could not be immediately established.

However, according to optimum management, the mine was put on sale last year in August to a Swedish company which had already paid a deposit.

Optimum Coal mine Van der Merwe has conceded that operations at the mine have been suffering laying the blame on Eskom and the Bank of Baroda.

“There was a deposit which was paid, the company has already started with its due diligence. I think actions likes these discourage potential buyers from proceeding with sales.” Van der Merwe said.