Johannesburg - Eskom CEO Brian Molefe said he felt as if there was “a gun to our head” in negotiations with Glencore over a coal supply contract that the Swiss mining and trading company said it couldn’t honor because the price was too low.
Glencore last year placed its Optimum coal unit in business rescue proceedings, a form of bankruptcy, after Eskom fined it under the terms of a contract it had to supply the Hendrina power plant and refused to negotiate over a price of R150 per metric ton specified in a contract that runs until 2018.
Eskom has said Glencore asked for R530 per ton.
The mine is now in the process of being sold to Tegeta Exploration & Resources for R2.15bn. Tegeta is controlled by the Gupta family, who are in business with a son of President Jacob Zuma.
Eskom refused to increase the coal contract price in July, after four months of intermittent power cuts across the country due to inadequate generation capacity.
Glencore said that if it stopped supplying coal to Hendrina it would cause further electricity outages, known as load shedding in South Africa.
Glencore declined to comment when called by Bloomberg.
“I believe that right or wrong, the intention was to cause load shedding,” Molefe said. “I didn’t feel good about Glencore and the way they did business.”