Mantashe told Gupta mines can be saved

The business rescue practitioners of eight Gupta-owned mines — including Optimum‚ Brakfontein‚ Koornfontein and Shiva — have given hope that the mines can be brought to being operational‚ Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said in Parliament on Wednesday.

Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe. Picture: FILE/ Masi Losi

The minister made his first appearance before the portfolio committee on mineral resources which is probing the situation at the mines. Workers at Optimum have been on strike recently over concerns about the non-payment of salaries.

Mantashe said he had engaged with the trade union at Optimum and would go to Optimum on Thursday to discuss the situation at the mine with workers.

The minister had been assured by the business rescue practitioners that workers and creditors had been paid and that the mines were working.
“They gave hope that the mines can be brought back into operation‚” he told MPs.

Mantashe emphasised that mining was not for speculators and was a long haul investment.
“If you are in a hurry to get money … you are in the wrong place‚” Mantashe said. Money had to be ploughed into the operation before it could be made.

Optimum was placed under business rescue late last month. This was was precipitated by the withdrawal by the Bank of Baroda of their banking facilities.

The mine has been issued with a non-compliance notice for failing to adhere to its social and labour plan commitments and its rehabilitation obligations.

The financial provision for the rehabilitation of Optimum and Koornfontein mines is held by the Bank of Baroda. It was subjected to a freezing order in September last year granted in favour of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse.

The Optimum rehabilitation fund has a financial provision of R1‚6bn as against a liability of R1‚5bn.

Brakfontein has a R12m shortfall in his provision for its rehabilitation liability of R21m. Koornfontein has no shortfall and Idwala has a shortfall of R6m. — BusinessLIVE


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