Mineral Resources Minister, Zwane ‘interferes’ again in a mine sale

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has been accused of interfering in a mine sale by giving instructions that his preferred BEE partner be chosen over other prospective partners.

Zwane is said to have told a Chinese-led consortium to overlook one of the prospective BEE partners in favour of another. The identity of that partner is not known.

One of the directors of Shaft 9, Lebogang Marumole, said he and his co-director Stephen Manyathela were told by Owen O’Brien, CEO of Tau Lekoa Mine in Klerksdorp, a subsidiary of Heaven-Sent SA Sunshine Investment Company Limited (HSICL) that Zwane preferred another BEE bidder instead of it.

It is not clear who HSICL has taken on as its BEE partner.

“When we were about to sign, Owen [O’Brien] told us Minister Zwane prefers another BEE partner who is his old comrade and he offered us the mine dump and also said he would grow my company which already has a contract at Kopanang,” Marumole told City Press.

Late last year AngloGold announced it would be selling off its Kopanang mine to HSICL, a Chinese capital management company with headquarters in Hong Kong.

The sale to another one-director company which is said to be owned by HSICL was approved by the Competition Commission earlier this year. However, the acquisition still has to be approved by the mineral resources department.

Marumole has already lodged formal complaints with the Competition Commission and the office of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa seeking intervention on the allegedly discrepancy-riddled deal.

The complaint details the events leading up to AngloGold Ashanti opting to sell the company to HSICL.

According to documents, which City Press has seen, the HSICL, through its representatives Village Main Reef (VMR), told the then prospective BEE partners that “the time for BEE partners to get rich out of BEE transactions is out of the question and this is not going to happen in this transaction”.

Shaft 9 was initially the competing bidder for the mine against HSICL before the two started talks making Shaft 9 the BEE partner as required for the mine acquisition by the foreign company.

O’Brien said Zwane and the department were not party to the process of choosing a partner.

“The department and the minister are not part of the process of deciding who we as a company choose as a BEE partner. They are the regulators, who ensure that we are compliant with the mining charter.

“Mr Marumole is a businessman and was approached by me and interviewed as a possible BEE partner. VMR [a subsidiary of HSICL and owner of Tau Lekoa Mine] went through an extensive process and unfortunately, he [Marumole] was not successful. I also did not offer him any dumps,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien said the company was waiting for final approval from the department and only then would the company publicly disclose its BEE-partner.

Tyron Seale, spokesperson for Ramaphosa, confirmed the complaint was received but said it was forwarded to the mineral resources department to deal with.

“We did receive correspondence which we referred to the department to look into. We have asked them to pay attention to the matter.”

The department denied that Zwane had interfered in the transaction in any way.

“The sale of Kopanang by Anglogold Ashanti was concluded between the parties. The claims that the minister had a preferred candidate in the matter are incorrect and misleading.

“A section 11 application, which is necessary before the sale can be finalised, has been received and is being assessed by the department,” it said.

The Competition Commission confirmed receipt of the complaint but said it didn’t believe the conduct complained of contravened the competition laws.

Asked about the complaint, Anglogold Ashanti said: “In selecting a buyer for Kopanang, AngloGold Ashanti was clear at the outset that it would look for a credible counterpart with an established operating track record and the financial wherewithal not only to operate the mine, but also to secure many of the jobs that would otherwise be lost if the mine were placed on care and maintenance [on temporary hold].”

By: City Press


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