MC Mining shuts gates to discourage looting spreading to Uitkomst mine

MC Mining, a coal miner operating in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal, said today it had temporarily suspended operations at its 70%-owned Uitkomst mine owing to civil unrest in the province.

Sam Randazzo, the interim CEO of MC Mining, said that in suspending production at Uitkomst the company hoped to discourage “… activists from entering the Uitkomst site”.

Shops, malls, and industrial sites throughout KwaZulu Natal have been attacked by thousands of looters in the wake of the imprisonment of former South African president, Jacob Zuma on June 7. What began as a political protest has also spread to Gauteng province where 19 people are reported to have died.

According to EWN, a broadcaster, 26 people have lost their lives in KwaZulu-Natal. The violence has led to 757 arrests (453 in Gauteng and 304 in KwaZulu-Natal).

“Our first priority is the safety of our employees and contractors and we have taken this immediate action to protect their well-being. Temporarily halting the colliery operations should also discourage activists from entering the Uitkomst site,” said Randazzo.

“Unfortunately, protests, road blockages, and attacks targeting transport vehicles have been reported across KwaZulu-Natal, including the towns and communities where the majority of the Uitkomst mine employees and contractors reside,” said MC Mining in an announcement to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

“Authorities have deployed security forces to areas where protests are occurring, and we remain hopeful of a speedy resolution so that our employees and contractors can return to work and for recommencement of operations at the Uitkomst colliery,” said Randazzo.

“The current situation remains fluid and company management continues to carefully monitor developments. Market updates will be provided as and when the situation changes,” he added.

Bloomberg News reported that after trucks were torched in KwaZulu-Natal, leading to the closure of the N3, the highway linking sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest port in Durban to the economic hub of Johannesburg. It’s also the start of trucking routes used to transport of goods as far north as the Democratic Republic of Congo, it said.

South African defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said that while the country remained under heavy surveillance, there was no need to declare a state of emergency at the current time.

“We do not think we have reached that point … When the time comes [and is] informed by intelligence gathered and co-ordinated by the three[security] entities, then the president is usually advised and then the president will then declare a state of emergency if the need arises based on that assessment report,” she was quoted by BusinessLive to have said.