JSE newcomer Tharisa under fire from Cosatu

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Tharisa Minerals, the junior platinum and chrome producer that made its debut on the JSE last week, has come under fire from Cosatu for allegedly relocating communities without compensation.

Cosatu also accused Tharisa of flouting mining regulations by not providing jobs and basic amenities for local residents.

The labour federation has threatened legal action against Tharisa if it does not meet its demands within seven days.

Tharisa Minerals dismissed the allegations yesterday.

The company has its headquarters in Cyprus and owns 74 percent of the Tharisa open-pit mine near Rustenburg.

Its chairman is entrepreneur Loucas Pouroulis, who established Keaton Energy, Eland Platinum and Petra Diamonds.

Solly Phetoe, Cosatu’s North West secretary, said the company had not answered questions about the provision of basic services and compensation after relocating 850 families from Mmaditlhokwe in 2011.

The mining charter compels mining houses to meet community, social and labour obligations.

“In terms of the social labour plan, they [Tharisa] were meant to have built schools and a clinic. We also need them to prioritise residents, especially the youth,” Phetoe said. “The company has done nothing for the community, they have given shacks, and no roads.”

The federation planned to engage the Rustenburg municipality, and the departments of land affairs and co-operative governance to ensure Mmaditlhokwe residents received services.

Michelle Taylor, Tharisa’s executive for corporate affairs, denied Cosatu’s allegations, calling them unfounded.

“There is no substance to the outrageous claims made against the company and we reject the allegations…

“We [Tharisa] have close and positive relationships with local authorities and community representatives and we continue to work together through the appropriate forums,” Taylor said.

Cosatu said it wanted Tharisa to provide proper housing and basic amenities, including electricity and water. It wanted community members, particularly the youth, to be prioritised for jobs.

Cosatu alleged that graves were being damaged and relocated, and said the company must stop doing so immediately.

Tharisa had wanted to raise up to R1 billion through a private placement at between R42.75 and R55.21 a share. It managed to raise R500 million at R38 a share.

When it listed last Thursday, the shares traded at R25 for most of the day because contractual shareholders were obliged to get out of the stock.

Yesterday the shares added 1 percent to close at R25.50.

Tharisa’s operation has been described as low risk and low capital because it is an open-pit mine. It employs fewer workers than conventional platinum producers because much of the operations are mechanised.


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