In­ter­na­tional min­ing com­pany seeks political pro­tec­tion against po­lice as al­le­ga­tions of mal­prac­tice emerge

CityPress - - Business -

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.

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