A settlement document leaked to BusinessLive has confirmed earlier reports that Optimum Coal mine, owned by the Gupta family’s mining company, Tegeta, would be getting a massive Eskom-approved discount on what was once a ‘non-negotiable’ fine.
According to the document, Eskom has agreed to accept a payment of R255.4 million from Optimum Coal for what was initially a R2.1 billion fine – cutting the original claim by 88%.
In May, Moneyweb reported that it had received information that a settlement between the Gupta company and Eskom had been reached – and this week, the publication reported that the fine had been reduced to a far more manageable R500 million.
The new leaked information points to that being reduced even further.
The settlement was reportedly reached through private arbitration, and neither Eskom nor the department of Public Enterprises would comment on the matter, Moneyweb reported.
The fine was first imposed on Glencore, when it still owned Optimum mines, for producing low-quality coal to the Hendrina power station. Glencore tried to negotiate the fine, but Eskom, led by former CEO Brian Molefe, outright refused to do so.
Glencore was then forced to put Optimum into business rescue, which ultimately led to the mine being acquired by Tegeta, with Eskom’s help.
At the time, Eskom said it would not abandon its pursuit of the fine – and insisted it would continue to pursue it even after the mining operation was acquired by Tegeta.
The Tegeta acquisition has been mired in controversy, with claims that Molefe and former chair, Ben Ngubane tried to pressure then-mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi into blackmailing Glencore to give up Optimum.
It has also been claimed the current mineral resources minister, Mosebenzi Zwane helped the Gupta family acquire the mine from Glencore, and it has been shown that Eskom effectively ‘loaned’ the family hundreds of millions of rands to facilitate the purchase.