Lurco, the diversified commodities, beneficiation and trading business whose R500 million bid for the Gupta linked Koornfontein Mine was scuppered by late payment, has approached the courts for a reprieve against the business rescue practitioners. Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

JOHANNESBURG – Lurco, the diversified commodities, beneficiation and trading business whose R500 million bid for the Gupta linked Koornfontein Mine was scuppered by late payment, has approached the courts for a reprieve against the business rescue practitioners.

This is after the company, which had won as preferred bidder for the mine in October, missed a five-day deadline to commit R500m into a local account and subsequently lost the opportunity, which was handed to Black Royal Minerals who had R200m less. 

Ellington Nxumalo, Lurco group chief executive, said yesterday the deadline was both impossible and unreasonable, given that the company had to adhere to the South African Reserve Bank time frame of a minimum of three to six weeks. 

“To bring half-a-billion rand into the country in five days is not practical, it is impossible, they got it wrong, and we are hoping the court will make the judgment for us,” Nxumalo said.

Louis Klopper, the business rescue practitioner for the mine, said Lurco was within its rights to approach the court, but that it had been unable to bring the money into the country by a specified date. 

“In business rescue, you are led by conditions set by the creditors,” Klopper.

Khanyi Zungu, Lurco’s executive head of legal, said it appears the decision to impose a five-day deadline was adopted by Eskom in a meeting. 

“Other creditors were not allowed to vote. They have told us that if they had a chance they would not have voted for the deadline,” said Zungu, adding the business rescue practitioners did not act in the best interest of employees who had not received their salaries for more than a year.

The Koornfontein mine in Mpumalanga supplied coal to Eskom before going into business rescue last year, following state capture allegations at Gupta-linked Tegeta Resources and Exploration.

Optimum and Koornfontein were forced into business rescue under its Gupta-linked owner Tegeta Resources & Exploration. The Optimum and Koornfontein mines were acquired by Glencore, the diversified global mining company in 2012.

Koornfontein is a shareholder within the Richards Bay Coal Terminal, with a 1.5-million-ton annual coal export entitlement, it also has three processing plants, two railway sidings, and a rapid load-out facility.

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