Optimum Coal Mine

From Global Energy Monitor
This article is part of the Global Coal Mine Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.
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The Optimum Coal Mine is a previously operating coal mine caught in the midst of bankruptcy and business rescue proceedings. As such, the mine was on care and maintenance as of July 2020, but it may operate in the future.[1]


The map below shows the exact location of the Optimum coal mine.

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Records show that the Optimum mine has been operating since at least 2002, when it was recorded as having an annual capacity of 13,100 million tonnes. [2]

In 2008, BHP Billiton Energy Coal South Africa Ltd sold Optimum mine to Optimum Coal Holdings Ltd.[3] In 2011, Glencore moved to take a controlling stake in Optimum Holdings.[4]

In August 2015, Glencore placed Optimum Coal’s mining operations into bankruptcy proceedings; the operations were sold in December to Tegeta Exploration and Resources (Pty) Ltd. According to a 2015 USGS Minerals Yearbook report, production was likely to shut down in 2016.[5]

In February 2018, Optimum mine went into business rescue after their owners, the India-born Gupta family, fled the country to evade prosecution over their alleged involvement in widespread corruption. The mine has been non-operational ever since.[6]

The latest proceedings in the business rescue case, reported on July 30, 2020, indicate that a group of Optimum Coal Mine creditors are urging the Pretoria High Court to consider an application to liquidate the coal mine. Liquidation would imply the final death of Optimum as the mine would formally shut down, according to a Business Maverick article. However, the Optimum rescue practitioners oppose the liquidation, because they have indicated that there are at least three potential buyers for the coal mine. These buyers would prevent the mine from shutting down entirely.[7]

In 2022, news outlets reported that allegations have emerged that Optimum Coal Mine has been used as an "'industrial-strength' money-laundering machine"[8]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: Westdawn Investments/JIC Mining Services[7]
  • Parent Company: Optimum Coal Holdings (which is owned by Tegeta Exploration and Resources (Pty) Ltd.)[7]
  • Location: Near Pullens Hope, Municipality of Steve Tshwete, District of Nkangala, in Mpumalanga Province.
  • GPS Coordinates: -26.0048466, 29.6114906 (exact)
  • Status: Care and Maintenance
  • Production Capacity: 11 Mtpa[5]
  • Total Resource:
  • Mineable Reserves: 114 Mt
  • Coal type: thermal, bituminous
  • Mine Size:
  • Mine Type: surface, underground
  • Start Year:
  • Source of Financing:

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