Executives of Wescoal are engaging with shareholders to reassure the market that the process of moving towards a majority black empowerment shareholding has had no detrimental effect on day-to-day business.
Acting CEO of the coal mining and trading group, Waheed Sulaiman, says the underlying solid and steady growth path remains intact as the foundation for projects to take the group to the next level of stakeholder value.
“Unfounded speculation has been rife in the marketplace regarding Wescoal mainly due to the vacuum caused by the group being restricted from issuing statements because of being under a cautionary or a closed period,” he points out. At this time we are not able to release any financial information as Wescoal is in a closed period.
“The processes unfolding presently are mainly part of a planned strategy in place for some time. The decision to transform the company to have a 51% black shareholding was taken by the full board early last year with a view to optimising stakeholder value through meeting legislative requirements now in place.”
Sulaiman says that to-date Wescoal has avoided many of the difficulties faced by big miners in South Africa by concentrating on the domestic market with Eskom as a reliable client and other industrial clients.
“The Elandspruit Water Use Licence is in place as are all regulatory and technical aspects for the mine. We are in discussions with Eskom to conclude a long-term coal supply contract in conjunction with implementing long-term funding arrangements. We expect to produce first coal 16 weeks from flow of funds.”
The mining company is aiming at producing in excess of 4 Mt by next year.
Performing among its peers
“We are also in a special place among industry peers in that we service the domestic market through our trading division, with the combined mining and trading affording hugely increased stability for the group.”
“The distribution centre launched late last year is the first of its kind in the industry. It reduces the carbon footprint by switching transportation from road to rail, reduces the impact on our national road structure and also ensures that the product does not go to ground during transportation, transhipment or bulk storage,” Sulaiman says.
“The facility allows 10 000 t, or the loads of 350 road vehicles, of coal per month to be taken off the road and transported by train. The approach enhances our environmental protection policies which together with our aggressive safety audits and social responsibility programmes forms the backbone of our ongoing sustainability for the group.
Acting CEO with good experience
Sulaiman was appointed acting CEO with the resignation of incumbent Andre Boje recently and sees his immediate thrust as stabilising the group as it moves to implement its long-standing strategies and policies. “I am excited about the prospects of adding value to Wescoal’s growth path and welcome the challenge of heading up an experienced team of professionals,” he says.
Prior to his appointment, Sulaiman worked in various roles at BHP Billiton’s South African operations where he oversaw strategy and business development as well as commercial and corporate finance activities.