‘The Transnet situation has to be fixed. We do not have an option here’
VUSLAT Bayoğlu – unsurprisingly because he is a substantial coal exporter – has very strong views on what has to happen at Transnet, so it is going to be interesting to see whether this state-owned organisation with a monopoly on South Africa’s ports and railways can get back on a recovery track this year.
Bayoğlu was one of the very few – perhaps the only – coal exporters who publicly disagreed with the Minerals Council South Africa’s move to get Transnet CEO Portia Derby and Transnet Freight Rail CEO Sizakele Mzimela fired. They were both forced out last year, but Bayoğlu’s response was, “We have to work with Portia Derby. What did they achieve by calling for her removal? The Minerals Council was wrong on this one.” Bayoğlu reckons the main problem hamstringing Transnet was the Chinese locomotive contract that happened before Derby’s appointment and was out of her control to fix. So far the jury is out on whether the private business initiative to fix Transnet will deliver increased railage volumes. Bayoğlu reckons the key issue is the new ownership/access agreement that has to be reached between government and the private sector over Transnet.
That aside, he remains optimistic on the future of the South African mining industry although perhaps not as gung ho as he was a few years back before Eskom and then Transnet came totally off the rails. He is not really fussed about Eskom because he does not sell coal to the utility, and points out you can sort out your own power supply situation provided you have the money. That’s not the case with Transnet. Bayoğlu started out in coal but has since diversified heavily into manganese and is sizing up a major new underground manganese mine development.
LIFE OF VUSLAT
He’s originally from Erzurum, Turkey, and holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from Middle East Technical University. He moved to South Africa in 2002 and got involved in the coal sector, eventually creating the Menar group through which he controls his various interests in coal, manganese and other metals. He has built Menar up from junior to mid-tier mining company status. In addition to his own companies, he is also a director of the Richards Bay Coal Terminal and the FutureCoal Global Alliance.