Robinson Ramaite
Rainmakers & Potstirrers

Robinson Ramaite

CEO: Salungano Group

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‘Salungano will aim to be part of transforming the sector from one that has traditionally been an extractive one to one that places the ethos of just transition at the centre’

“A FEW challenging months of financial distress and boardroom deadlocks” is how Salungano summed up the unravelling in 2022 of its relationship with its co-shareholders in the Arnot OpCo (Arnot). In 2010, Salungano combined with former Arnot mine employees to reopen the operation, which had been suspended after its then owner, Exxaro Resources, failed to renew a long-term supply agreement with Eskom. Arnot resumed coal supplies to Eskom in 2022, but there were soon reports of questionable financial management.

A few months later, Salungano applied successfully to put Arnot into business rescue. The business had been in financial distress for some time, according to Salungano’s Robinson Ramaite. Arnot’s other shareholders hit back by taking Salungano to arbitration, accusing it of failing to honour its funding obligations. The entire embroglio is a management-sapping distraction for Ramaite, especially as a previously announced strategy by Salungano to rebrand and reposition itself needs his full attention. Formerly known as Wescoal, a supplier of coal to Eskom, Salungano is now aiming to become a broader energy, minerals, agriculture and logistics investment company.

The group’s interim accounts demonstrate the urgent need for revenue diversification. Although global thermal coal prices have soared, Eskom pays considerably less. Salungano’s Vanggatfontein mine was also compelled to suspend operations while it discussed a new contract with Eskom. It only came back on stream in September. Salungano is now exporting more coal, so profits should improve this year. The hope is that with improved top-line numbers and more management focus, Ramaite can bring about Salungano’s repositioning.


Ramaite, who was chairman of Wescoal, stepped in as interim CEO after Reginald Demana left in 2021. He will now stay on as CEO for two years to embed the new strategy. He is a former director-general of the Department of Public Service and Administration, and has advised various cabinet ministers. He holds a BJuris from the University of the North and a master’s degree in management from Wits University. He is also deputy CEO of United Manganese of Kalahari and chairman of the Simeka Group, a private equity firm.

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