Although many things at the mine, including the gardens of long time residents such as Mr Kevin Wright, still looked normal by this week, various people were busy with a fight to try and keep Eskom from cutting the mine’s electricity supply.
“All we ask are a few days.”
These are the words of provisional liquidator Mr Leigh Roering, who is currently leading the battle to stop Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mine from ending in a disaster.
The mine has been in dire straits since August after its former owner, the company Village Main Reef, also known as Village, indicated that it will not take responsibility for the mine’s losses anymore. In the meantime, Blyvoor’s previous owner, DRDGold, also indicated that does not want anything to do with Blyvoor. Since this time Village have also claimed that the sale of Blyvoor was not fully completed, an allegation denied by DRDGold.
As a result of the mine’s troubles it has been placed under provisional liquidation in order to see whether the mine or some of its assets could not be sold. Although the provisional liquidator leading this task, Roering, has tried to sold the mine or its assets, no transaction had been completed by Tuesday.
“Although we had several buyers interested from the start, none have been able to come up with the necessary money to show that they could buy the mine,” Roering told the Herald.
On 18 November, Eskom published a second notice, stating its intention to discontinue the electricity supply to Blyvoor on Friday, November 29
Not only will this result in people staying in Blyvoor Village being without electricity, water and sewerage services the chances of selling the mine will almost disappear as it will be flooded due to pumps not working.
“There will only be a short time, possibly of a few weeks, that the mine will still be salvageable,” says Roering.
“I have written several letters to Eskom, asking them to give us more time, and have also spoken to representatives at various levels and even held site meetings, but they do not want to listen.
“Although I have explained to the Town Council that it will have huge ramifications for the whole area, they do not seem to be fazed and are not willing to help us either.”
“Eskom’s requirements are massive and they indicated in writing that the only way that the electricity will not be cut, is if there is financial intervention,” Roering added, and said that he had also asked other government departments, such as the Department of Minerals and Energy (DMR), for assistance in getting an interim extension for the electricity cut-off date.”
He also indicated that there was, by this week, a woman who was extremely interested in buying Blyvoor Village and that possible investors were also still interested in buying the mine.
As a result of the fact that Eskom refused to budge on the cut-off date, the unusual step was taken to let these possible investors negotiate with Eskom directly to see whether they could not bring forward money to pay off the electricity debts.
“I have heard on good authority that Blyvoor paid over R58 million to the DRM in 1996 as part of its environmental management plan. What happened to this money? Why can’t it be used to pay Eskom to keep the mine open? The cutting of Blyvoor’s electricity will be disastrous for the environment,” the well-known environmentalist, Ms Mariette Liefferink of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment told the Herald.
“Although we have spoken to the DMR about the matter, they have been very slow to respond. An official who attended a meeting at the time last Friday, Mr Rudzani Mabogo, claimed to not have known anything about the mine’s problems despite the fact that I have already sent him documentation about it on September 30.
“A situation like this shows that Government is incapable of applying its own laws,” Liefferink complained.
Although the Herald asked the Merafong City Local Municipality, the DMR and Eskom for comments on the matter, no-one was forthcoming by the time of the newspaper going to print