The business rescue practitioner of Mpumalanga’s Lily Mine, Rob Devereux, has been retained in his position, but is now working with another expert.
Siyakhula Sonke Corporation (SSC), the new controlling shareholders of Vantage Goldfields SA, had given Devereux an ultimatum to resign or face being pushed out through a court application following dissatisfaction by the Barbrook creditors’ committee and SSC.
Devereux said he appointed business rescue practitioner Daniel Terblanche to work with him because SSC chief executive Fred Arendse would not work with him any longer.
The creditors’ committee was dissatisfied because it was not given proof to show that money had been deposited after SSC bought 74% of Vantage Goldfields and for lack of accountability, and levelled allegations of neglect against Devereux, which it said made the Lily and Barbrook mines a playground for zama zamas.
On the other hand, Arendse wanted Devereux to leave because of an alleged breakdown in communication and trust.
Arendse said SSC discovered that there was gold in the tailings dam which could generate R549 million in revenue, but Devereux did not disclose the information and did not embark on a project to extract the gold since he knew about it almost three years ago.
“Arendse wants me removed and I said he must go to court. I appointed Terblanche to work with me because Arendse won’t speak to me,” Devereux said.
Barbrook’s chairperson, Dwaine Koch, said that they were in favour of Devereux being retained because he possessed knowledge about the business rescue process of mines.
“The directors say we must remove [Devereux], but we are saying let’s keep him because he has knowledge,” Koch said.
He added that the committee had suspended its liquidation application because of Terblanche’s pending appointment.
Koch said Terblanche had a good reputation and his priority was to explain SSC’s status at Vantage Goldfields.
The committee expressed doubt that SSC had received R190 million from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and demanded proof. The IDC confirmed granting the loan.
The mines were shut down and placed under business rescue in 2016 after an entrance to the Lily Mine collapsed and buried three workers underground. A total R310 million is needed to reopen the mines.
“SSC needs to perform because they had enough time or they must move away. Remember that Devereux had expressed his concern that he doubted if SSC had the technical and financial ability to buy and operate the mine,” Koch said.
Arendse, however, said the process to appoint Terblanche was still pending, adding that he did not want Devereux to remain.
“Based on the experience we had with Devereux, we might have a problem. If he’s still involved, will he not frustrate progress? We want to understand how having Devereux will assist us to progress. He must be accountable for the past three years that he has been a business rescue practitioner,” Arendse said.