International mining company seeks political protection against police as allegations of malpractice emerge
In 2008, a “no-nonsense”, Russia-born, Australia-based millionaire landed on South Africa’s shores with a big plan to become a dominant player in the mining industry. Transasia Minerals SA CEO Luda Roytblat said she was ready for those who throw bricks at her because she would use the bricks to build “a firm foundation” for her company.
Roytblat, a lawyer by profession, is counting among her battles big opponents such as mining consulting company Snowden and BDK Attorneys. When she succeeded, she said, all her enemies would “look ridiculous”.
Transasia Minerals SA is a private investment company with a primary focus on mining and energy sectors worldwide. Its parent company, Transasia Mineral Ltd, is owned by the Aslanov family from Uzbekistan and is based in Indonesia. Roytblat joined the parent company as a project manager in 1999 and worked closely with billionaire founder Azam Aslanov.
Roytblat said that coal was a part of the company’s core business, but other mining interests included manganese, iron ore, uranium, bauxite, copper, nickel, gold and energy.
She said South Africa had always struck her as “an investment haven that offers the necessary protection to its foreign investors through its foreign direct investment policy”.
In terms of BEE partners, Roytblat said Transasia opted for a workers’ trust because it was “the best vehicle through which their future can be secured”.
Over the past six years, Transasia has spent more than R200 million on coal development and exploration projects in KwaZulu-Natal.
In future, a project of this magnitude, if done properly, could easily result in an investment of R500 million, said Roytblat. She mines anthracite, which is used in industrial processes, and supplies export and steel markets.
When asked for an update on some of her legal battles, Roytblat said the matters were sub judice. in fear”.
A copy of an email from the provincial office of the KwaZulu-Natal transport and community safety department confirmed the meeting. Mchunu had also “directed that all the complaints pertaining to police conduct be investigated [and that] all criminal cases already opened be speedily investigated and submitted to the prosecution for decision”.
Both Roytblat and Newberry agreed that there was no contractual relationship between them or their companies. However, Newberry said in a response through his lawyers that the machines Maroun Civils used for its work at the Transasia coal mine were its property.
According to a quotation, under the letterhead of Maroun Civils, the work included to strip topsoil and subsoil, drill and blast hard and strip material, as well as to load and haul coal from the pit to the stockpile area. However, Transasia and Peter Maroun from Maroun Civils disagreed on whether or not the job that has been paid for had been done, which resulted in Transasia’s measures to hold the equipment on its site.
An email this week from Samantha Maroun distanced the Transasia Minerals SA agreement from Maroun Civils, saying Peter Maroun was approached “in his personal capacity to work on their development site”.
Roytblat wrote in a follow-up complaint to Mchunu’s former office that “despite these efforts, we are still left with a situation where the police continue to conduct duties and take action where there are no elements of crime”.
“I would like to state further that there is an agreement between the two parties, so the matter is purely civil, which can only be solved in civil courts,” she said.
SA Police Service branch commander in Dundee Colonel Wilfred Mtshali said they had received a complaint from Transasia Minerals SA and they were looking into the allegations.
Mtshali declined to comment on any allegations against the police.
An official in the KwaZulu-Natal transport and safety department said he could not speak to the media and referred questions to communications.
Mchunu’s spokesperson, Ndabezinhle Sibiya, said that they are looking into the details of the case and added that the executive normally meets with business people and members of the community to intervene where there is a conflict.