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We have secured $100 m - aurora

By Lihle Z Mtshali | Apr 28, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

BELEAGUERED investment firm Aurora Empowerment Systems is expected to announce details of a new $100-million financing deal tomorrow.

The deal, which the company says it has signed with a yet to be named North American private equity fund, should help Aurora buy the two Pamodzi Gold mines it has been running since last year.

The Orkney and Grootvlei mines have been under Aurora management since late last year after its R605-million bid was chosen by liquidators led by Enver Motala.

But, the National Union of Mineworkers says it will only believe that there is new funding when its members at both mines have been paid their wages and are back at work.

President Jacob Zuma's nephew, Khulubuse Zuma, is the chairperson of Aurora and former president Nelson Mandela's grandson Zondwa Mandela is managing director.

While executive director Thulani Ngubane confirmed yesterday that the company had the funding, Mandela refused to give details and said Aurora had "taken the decision not to discuss the funding until tomorrow's press conference".

Motala said Aurora had advised the liquidators on Monday that the deal had been approved with the American funders.

"They told us that they are in the process of signing the funding agreement, but we are awaiting formal notification in writing from the funders that the money is available."

The liquidators had given Aurora until April 26 to raise the purchase price of the mines or lose the deal.

Ngubane said services, which have been suspended at both mines for the past four weeks due to strikes, would resume in the first week of May.

He said: "The mines as they stand now are on care and maintenance, which means that all the essential services - the pumping of water and ensuring that temperatures are normalised - are being taken care of."

Asked if the funding would cover workers' outstanding wages as well, Ngubane said workers would be paid in full and would return to work.

NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka was sceptical: "Until workers have been paid every cent that they are owed, there will be no work on those mines."

He said all workers at Grootvlei were still owed 1,5% of their February wages, while all category A workers at the mine - the highest paid specialised trade workers like artisans - had not been paid for February. Workers at both mines had not been paid for March, Seshoka said.


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