Portfolio Committee concerned by developments at Optimum mine

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources has expressed concern regarding the developments at the Optimum coal mine in Mpumalanga.

The mine workers have downed tools and are demanding their salaries be paid also demanding answers about the future of the mine.

Reports indicate that the mine failed to pay workers, citing banking problems after the Bank of Baroda announced it was ceasing to do business in South Africa. The mine has not been able to give clarity on the way forward.

The committee chairperson Sahlulele Luzipo on Saturday said they have received a letter from the National Union of Mine Workers (NUM), requesting its intervention in the ongoing impasse.

He said the situation at the Optimum mine is reminiscent of the events that occurred leading up to the Aurora mine disaster. There, workers were not paid for several months before the mine was shut down and its assets stripped by owners.

“It cannot be allowed under this government dispensation that workers are made to bear the brunt, while the owners walk away unscathed,” said Luzipo.

Luzipo said that the committee is not convinced by explanations given to the workers by Optimum mine Chief Executive Officer George van der Merwe about the sale of the mine to new owners.

“We call on the Department of Mineral Resources to intervene swiftly and establish with certainty the future of the mine. It should also assist in ensuring that workers are paid,” said Luzipo, who welcomed the commitment by President Cyril Ramaphosa that he would intervene where there are potential job losses to find a lasting solution to avoid job losses. - SAnews.gov.za

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