Gwede Mantashe Photo: African News Agency/ANA

JOHANNESBURG - Newly-appointed minister of mineral resources, Gwede Mantashe, will on Thursday be meeting with workers at the troubled Optimum coal mine in Mpumalanga in a bid to resolve the impasse that arose after workers downed tools demanding salaries and answers about the future of the mine.

The Gupta-owned businesses, including Optimum coal mine, Koornfontein mines and Optimum Coal Terminal, have been placed under business rescue. 

Optimum workers say the mine is in a state of disarray and that suppliers have not been paid. Workers have also demanded answers from management about the future of the mine and the security of their jobs.

About 2,000 workers, who have not been paid any wages in February, marched to the company offices and then downed tools after management said it was not sure they would be paid.

The workers are demanding answers from management over the mine's future as its shareholders' whereabouts remain unknown.​ 

Optimum coal mine has also been taken to court by another mining company, Derko Mining and Exploration, in an effort to have the mine liquidated. The company owes service providers over R60 million. 

The mine could also be shut down over its failure to operate a community water desalination plant, which is a requirement for its mining licence, in line with a requirement for mining companies to meet social and labour obligations to retain their permits. 

The mine supplies coal to power utility Eskom with about five percent of its total coal supply at R150 per tonne.

 - African News Agency (ANA)