An Optimum coal colliery.  Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
An Optimum coal colliery. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

THE Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Monday that Tegeta Resources’ acquisition of the Optimum coal mine was "looking like duck soup".

"If it looks like a duck‚ walks like a duck and quacks like a duck‚ there needs to be a lot of contrary evidence to make us believe it is not a duck‚" the party’s mineral resources spokesperson‚ James Lorimer‚ said of the Gupta-owned company’s purchase of the mine from Glencore.

According to Lorimer‚ what "looks like a duck" is Tegeta’s purchase of a mine that "Glencore‚ one of the world’s most admired mining companies could not make viable"‚ and Tegeta securing "coal supply contracts for not just one but two Eskom power stations".

"On top of that‚ Eskom has ended a contract with an Exxaro-owned colliery that was supplying Arnot power station‚ in favour of coal to be trucked in from Optimum‚" he said.

What Mr Lorimer called an unmistakable similarity to a walking duck was Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane accompanying the Guptas to Switzerland to negotiate the Optimum deal with Glencore.

This‚ he said‚ was denied by "a Gupta factotum"‚ but "the minister’s staff confirms it".

"There is a quacking noise‚" said Lorimer‚ when "it is revealed that another party to the Optimum purchase deal is one of President (Jacob) Zuma’s sons‚ Duduzane".

"South Africans can be forgiven for thinking that a minister whose main purpose in the post is to deliver sweetheart mining deals to enrich the president’s family and his cronies has facilitated a deal which will work with the connivance of Eskom paying especially high prices for coal bought from Optimum‚" he said.

"This is looking like duck soup."

Lorimer said that in "order to convince the country that this is not‚ in fact‚ an amphibious avian‚ we need to be presented with facts that will show the full picture".

"That means details of this sale which include a proper report of all jobs lost at Optimum and Exxaro’s Arnot mines and most importantly the price paid to Tegeta for all the coal supplied to Eskom."

The Competition Commission will consider the acquisition on Wednesday and is expected to approve the deal. Mr Lorimer was quoted in Business Times at the weekend as saying it was understandable that the competition authorities might approve the deal, but the DA would raise it in Parliament.

"But this deal has to be looked at in a wider context. It’s not just coal assets, it’s the facilities at Richards Bay Terminal, it’s the Eskom contracts and it’s the close links with senior ANC figures," he told Business Times.

TMG Digital