Top Eskom coal experts still suspended one year after saying Gupta coal was rubbish

Eskom’s top coal experts remain suspended a year after raising a red flag over the quality of coal received from Tegeta Exploration and Resources, the Gupta-controlled mine.

This is according to a report from AmaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, which noted that coal scientist, Mark van der Riet, and senior laboratory services manager, Charlotte Ramavhona, were suspended on 1 September 2015 after clashing with Eskom bosses over conflicting lab results.

Eskom has defended the quality of the coal it received from the Guptas’ Brakfontein mine. However, a National Treasury investigation has revealed that Eskom signed a 10-year coal supply deal with Tegeta Exploration and Resources worth R400 million, for coal that both parties knew was out of specification.

AmaBhungane reported that despite Eskom’s statements that tests conducted by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) at the end of August had okayed the quality of Brakfontein’s coal, subsequent SABS tests found the opposite: Brakfontein’s coal failed to meet standards.

The investigative unit reported that correspondence between Eskom and Tegeta confirms that in August 2015, half the coal stockpiles from Tegeta were rejected after lab tests found the coal did not meet the power utility’s standards.

Read: Eskom paid Gupta mine millions for coal it couldn’t even use – report

“Eskom notes the significant increase in the number of out-of-specification coal stockpiles from July to August 2015. During August, 50% of the stockpiles have been out of specification resulting in rejection,” Eskom group executive, Matshela Koko wrote in a letter.

Koko also raised concerns that different labs were coming up with different results, saying it “calls into question the exact nature and quality of the coal that Brakfontein … supplies to Eskom”.

On 31 August 2015, Eskom suspended the coal supply from Tegeta, as well as the services of two private labs that had tested the coal, saying new tests by the SABS had found “major non-compliance” with levels of volatiles, ash and total moisture.

However, AmaBhungane reported that while it took Eskom a week to reinstate the Guptas’ coal contract, “a year later Van der Riet and Ramavhona are still fighting to be reinstated”.

Read the full article published by AmaBhungane here

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Top Eskom coal experts still suspended one year after saying Gupta coal was rubbish