Workers at Gupta-owned mines could receive payment soon

Workers at Optimum and Koornfontein coal mines last received a payment in October, with mining operations coming to an end in December.

FILE: Optimum Coal Mine employee Martine Lubisi is one of several Optimum Coal Mine employees who spoke to Eyewitness News about their financial situation. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Business rescue practitioners working for Gupta mines Optimum and Koornfontein say they expect workers at the mines to receive a payment by next week.

Workers last received a payment in October, with mining operations coming to an end in December.

The mine has failed to pay workers for several months since it was placed under business rescue earlier in 2019.

Optimum has not been supplying Eskom with coal for a year.

Business rescue practitioner Bouwer van Niekerk says there has been no way to pay the workers at the Optimum Coal Mine.

He says the workers have been placed on special leave because production has been halted.

“The reason why the mine has not produced coal is that there was never sufficient expenditure made for the state of the mine to keep it going while the Guptas were in charge.”

He says there is a separate plan to secure salaries for workers at Koornfontein.

“The business rescue practitioners concluded a post-commencement finance agreement and in terms of the agreement, funds need to flow early in March. As soon as it does, then payments will be made.”

Van Niekerk says they are hopeful that they will be able to secure enough funding to pay salaries at the mines indefinitely.

WATCH: Ripped off, used & abandoned by the Guptas


Meanwhile, the Department of Mineral Resource has raised concerned about the number of workers who are losing their lives in mines.

The department released the statistics about the Mining Health and Safety Standards and says 81 miners have died while on the job in 2018.

While this is a slight improvement from the 90 lives lost in 2017, the department says this is still a case for great concern as the figure is too high.

Chief inspector of mines David Msiza says fatalities in mines should not be accepted as a norm.

“This year, up to date, the fatalities have improved by 69%, and injuries by 63%. We’re greatly concerned that there are people still losing their lives in the sector. We continue working on achieving the goal of zero harm.”

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)