Project Halo won a bid to buy Optimum Coal Mine, Koornfontein Mine, and Optimum Coal Terminal for R3.6 billion. File Photo: IOL

CAPE TOWN – Project Halo, the consortium that came out as the preferred bidder in the highly-contested purchase of Optimum Coal Mine, rejects allegations of impropriety in the way it secured the bid to acquire Optimum Coal mine and other related assets. 

“Let it be stated clearly that we won the bid fair and square, based on our sound business proposal which was assessed by the Business Rescue Practitioners as the best plan presented to them”, said Paul Buckley, director, Project Halo. 

Project Halo won a bid to buy Optimum Coal Mine, Koornfontein Mine, and Optimum Coal Terminal for R3.6 billion. 

The consortium declared its expression of interest in the mine in March 2018, putting down a deposit of R250 million, as per Business Rescue Practitioners procedure, towards the end of 2018.

Project Halo tagged its bid at R3bn “based on what we believe the company is worth”, said Buckley. 

“We are focused on going through the final stage of the process with the creditors and then immediately hit the ground running, paying particular attention to the workers. Our sympathies lie with the workers at the mines, who have not been paid for some time. As soon as we take over the mine, and production resumes, we hope to address the workers’ plight”, said Buckley.

Project Halo distanced the consortium from allegations that it is linked to the Gupta family. “The reality is that the assets under bid used to be part of the Tegeta Group, controlled by the Guptas. The assets were put into business rescue by the Gupta family after its access to cash dried up following the withdrawal from South Africa of the only bank that would still offer banking facilities, India’s Bank of Baroda”, said Buckley.

Buckley said the format of the consortium is structured in keeping with the new proposed Mining Charter bill which is under review, to sharpen its empowerment element. 

The bulk of the shareholding – 40 percent – rests in the hands of the four directors, Mbongiseni Duma, Paul Buckley, Julian Kidd and Nkanyiso Buthelezi. Twenty percent is held by an A-rated financial institution which provided initial funding.  The rest of the shareholding is structured as follows;

  • 8 percent Women Consortium
  • 8 percent Workers
  • 12 percent is held by an established South African mining house with over 40 years of mining experience. The name is withheld pending the completion of all processes related to creditors. 
  • 8 percent Community
  • 4 percent Investors

Going forward, the consortium’s priorities are outlined as follows:  

  • Restoring mining operations back to normal
  • Address concerns and issues with clients, who include Eskom
  • Get the workers to keep their jobs, provide backpay and generally get their morale back again
  • Enhance health and safety standards not only in the workplace but also in the community where the workers come from
  • Push production to competitive levels again.
  • Settle outstanding balances with creditors

The consortium enjoys the backing of a reputable A-rated bank with vast experience in mining. 

“We're a business that is socially and environmentally responsible and through our actions, we're striving to create a better future for our communities. Entrusted to look after not only the commodities we extract and the natural resources we use, but also the people whose lives we touch along the way, we have a great responsibility to get things right”, concludes Buckley.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE