Reopening of Optimum Coal Mine welcomed – COSATU

Federation says this has saved the jobs of 500 mine workers

COSATU welcomes the reopening of Optimum Coal Mine and the saving of 500 mine workers’ jobs

10 April 2024

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the reopening of Optimum Coal Mine and the saving of over 500 mine workers’ jobs.  This is a major victory for these workers, their families and the host communities of the Steve Tshwete and Nkangala Municipalities in Mpumalanga. 

Optimum Mine has a potential output of 13.5 million tonnes of coal per annum.  Its return to operation will boost Eskom’s coal supplies and badly needed export earnings for the economy.  The reopening marked by the first shipment of coal exports through Richards Bay Port is a further injection in the port and a boost to Transnet’s recovery as well.

This marks a long-fought battle by COSATU and its tireless affiliate, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), to see Optimum move from business rescue after its previous owners of ill repute, the Guptas, fled South Africa and the judicial authorities to the United Arab Emirates.

Whilst we support government’s correct efforts to hold criminals to account, we could not afford to see innocent workers and the mine’s host communities plunged into unemployment, poverty and despair due to the actions of a corrupt few.

We are pleased that our engagements with government, the National Prosecuting Authority, the business rescue practitioners and the new owners have born fruit and culminated in this welcome injection into the economy of Mpumalanga.  We hope that as Optimum returns to full productivity other jobs that had been lost may be recovered.

This reopening is a sign that our collective efforts to cleanse South Africa of the decade of state capture are bearing fruit under the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa and government led by the African National Congress.  We urge the state to ramp up and spare no efforts to ensure the Guptas are fetched from wherever they are hiding and returned to South Africa to face justice.  If needs be, President Ramaphosa should request the intervention of the President of the UAE to assist in returning these fugitives and seizing their assets.

Issued by Matthew Parks, Acting National Spokesperson, COSATU, 10 April 2024