eskomCity Press reports that Eskom has cut the power at Gupta-owned Optimum Coal and wants it liquidated.  It blames the mine’s business rescue practitioners (BRPs) for failing to bring it back to profitability.  

The mine has been struggling financially and it has failed to pay Eskom for its power supply.  Eskom, which is one of the mine’s major creditors, indicated in an email sent on 21 February to the BRPs and other interested parties, who are expected to vote on the future of the mine, that it leaned towards liquidation.  Eskom lawyer Gareth Cremen, wrote:  “The mine is deteriorating as the days go by; and [there is a] lack of funding for its care and maintenance … In light of the aforesaid, our client is leaning more in favour of a liquidation for reasons set out above, which are not exhaustive.”  The comments by Eskom have been met with resistance from Richard Mguzulu, the representative of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).  The union represents at least 3,000 employees whose livelihood has been affected by the ongoing problems at Optimum.  On Tuesday, Mguzulu wrote a harshly worded email in which he expressed the union’s disappointment and labelled Eskom’s statements as “very reckless”.  The NUM also blamed Eskom for delaying the sale of the company.  The future of Optimum has been hanging in the balance for 18 months since the BRPs took charge of its operations.  The creditors have now opted for arbitration to determine the validity of their claims against the struggling coal mine.

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