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NUM confirms temporary deal struck at Optimum mine

The Gupta-owned mine paid workers 50% of their salaries on Thursday and promised to settle the balance sometime next week.

FILE: Protesters at the Optimum coal mine entrance in Mpumalanga. Picture: Pelane Phakgadi/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Optimum Coal Mine workers have struck a temporary deal with the mine's business rescue practitioners to go back to work today.

The Gupta-owned mine paid workers 50% of their salaries on Thursday and promised to settle the balance sometime next week.

It says it’s in the process of obtaining finance to ensure operations at its facility return to normal.

Workers have been protesting outside the firm's Hendrina operation this week, demanding their wages.

There were conflicting reports over whether the mine had paid its workers amid protest action. Three protesters were arrested and later released on warning.

National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) branch leader Goodwill Mthombeni says workers have agreed to return to work in order for the mine to start making profits and pay their salaries.

“The suspension of all those contractors will be lifted so that they can start making money.”

The Gupta-linked firm has been in financial difficulties since the Bank of Baroda’s exit from South Africa.

Business rescue practitioner Chris Monyela says the mine has successfully negotiated the resumption of coal transport with Transnet and the exportation of coal through the Richards Bay terminal.

He says these are just some of the processes underway to ensure that the mine is financially viable.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)