SUNDAY WORLD / 07 FEBRUARY 2020 - 10.59 / KABELO KHUMALO
Workers at a Gupta coal mine in Mpumalanga are set for more hard days ahead as the battle over the ownership of the mine rages on in the courts.
Workers at the mine have not been paid since the mine was placed in business rescue, along with Optimum and several other Gupta-owned companies, two years ago.
There was a glimmer of hope in November when Koorfontein Coal Mine creditors voted for BRM to take ownership of the mine.
There was a glimmer of hope for the workers in November last year when Koornfontein Coal Mine creditors voted for black empowerment group Black Royalty Minerals (BRM) to take ownership of the mine after the initial preferred bidder Lurco was said to have not raised the required capital in time.
Lurco, Charles King SA and Westdawn Investment immediately approached the courts to interdict the sale of the mine to BRM.
The interdicts were argued on Monday and the court on Tuesday dismissed the interdict applications with costs.
Makole Group (the parent company of BRM) chairman Ndavhe Mareda said the court’s decision meant business rescue practitioners could now continue their work of transferring the mine in terms of the approved business rescue plan.
“BRM is ready to operationalise the mine for the benefit of workers, the surrounding community and businesses, as well as for the advancement of local economic activity.
“Now that the cases are behind us, the real work of getting the mine operational again can begin,” Mareda said.
However, no sooner had BRM declared victory in the legal wrangle had Lurco stated its intention to continue challenging the decision to award the mine to BRM.
Aubrey Chauke, Lurco co-founder and chief operations officer said: “The matter was dismissed on a procedural technicality and not the merits of the case. The merits of the case were not argued or presented before the judge. Lurco is engaging its legal counsel at this stage.”
Lurco’s bid would have ensured that employees at the mine would receive 94 cents in the rand for all money owed to them. BRM’s bid only offers them 37 cents in the rand for outstanding amounts due.
Trade union representatives could not be reached for comment.
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