Aurora ‘given three days’ to leave mines

Liquidators have given Aurora Empowerment Systems three days to leave the Pamodzi mines in Orkney and Springs, trade union Solidarity said today.

“An hour ago we received notice that they have been told to leave. We received confirmation from the liquidators,” Gideon du Plessis, deputy general-secretary of Solidarity, told Sapa just after 3pm.

Sheshile Ngubane, commercial director of Aurora Empowerment Systems, confirmed to Sapa at 3.30pm that he had just received an email from the liquidators informing them of the decision.

“I’ve just got an email now, so what can we do?” he said.

“This is putting our Chinese [investors] into a very difficult situation,” he said, referring to the company’s potential Chinese investor, Shandong Gold.

Shandong arrived in South Africa this week to assess Pamodzi’s Grootvlei and Orkney operations and decide whether it would fund the politically – connected Aurora’s bid to buy the mines.

“We don’t see our Chinese going ahead with the deal,” he said.

The liquidators’ order “comes as a surprise as they flew all the way from Beijing, and he next thing the liquidators are terminating the contract,” Ngubane said.

“It puts us in a tricky situation.”

Du Plessis said the union was pleased with the decision.

“Solidarity regarded this decision as the second victory this week in the Aurora saga after two of the liquidators, Enver Motala and Gavin Gainsford were fired earlier this week,” the union said in a statement.

The remaining liquidators had appointed a security company to immediately take over to ensure Aurora did not strip assets or remove documents, Du Plessis said.

Aurora would have to be off the premises by Monday, he added.

“Aurora is not only responsible for the massive social crisis which impoverished more than 40 000 people, but they also stripped the mining asset of all value and caused South Africa as [an] investment possibility immeasurable damage,” Du Plessis said.

Motala and Gainsford were part of a group of six liquidators jointly appointed to manage the assets of Pamodzi Gold mines in Springs, on the East Rand, and Orkney in North West.

The four remaining liquidators are Johan Engelbrecht, Allan Pellow, Barend Peterson and Deon Botha.

The liquidators let Aurora Empowerment Systems – which is headed by former president Nelson Mandela’s grandson Zondwa, and President Jacob Zuma’s nephew, Khulubuse – make a bid for the mine, but Aurora failed to pay miners and reports emerged of the mine’s assets being stripped.

The saga has dragged on since Pamodzi went into liquidation in 2009.

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