Seriti rejects 'vague' calls for probe into South32 deal that will make it Eskom's largest coal supplier

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  • The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) have asked the police to probe some aspects of the Seriti deal.
  • Seriti has dismissed the claims raised by the unions as without merit but pledged to co-operate with the police investigation.
  • The acquisition of South32 business would turn Seriti into a major coal mining firm.

Under siege Seriti Resources whose impending acquisition of South32 coal mines has raised calls for an investigation has dismissed the complaints against it as "vague" lacking substance.

The black-owned coal miner has found itself embroiled in a storm after trade unions  flagged some aspects of the transactions as questionable.

The complaints lodged with the police by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) are centred around the proposal to renegotiate the supply agreement for Eskom’s Duvha power station and parts of the transactions.

Seriti is buying a 91.8% shareholding in South Africa Energy Coal (SAEC), which supplies Eskom with coal, in deal that has seen the company make an upfront payment of R100 million towards transaction.

Last month, the NUM through its acting general secretary William Mabapa, filed a complaint with the police call for probe on the proposal to amend the Duvha supply agreement which would see it pay more for coal. The union also alleges that Eskom would be funding the Seriti's acquisition of South32 assets.

In a statement on Tuesday, Seriti explained the significance of the adjustment to the price of coal, saying failure to arrive at a solution could have devastating effects on the future of the mine and power supply.

"The unavoidable solution to the supply of coal to Duvha is to require an adjustment to the price of coal to reflect the true and fair cost of production and implement various cost saving measures, failing which the mine and possibly SAEC will have to shut down."

It added that consequences for SAEC employees and Duvha and the country at large, which is experiencing a power supply crisis will be severe.

"This is a situation that must and can be avoided."

The deal is set to elevate Seriti into a prominent coal company. But the road to being a major player would see the company fight to defend its reputation.

The company has promised to fully co-operate with the police "if these complaints are investigated further" but maintained that there is "no merit to the complaints."

It accused those who are opposed to the deal of being "motivated by self-interest and not the interests of the country," and asked to be allowed to complete the transaction.

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