Optimum Mine workers are in for a dark Christmas.
Early this month, officials at the mine received a letter from the Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) stating that their entitlement contract will not be renewed.
Over 2 000 jobs are at risk of being lost over the decision.
The export entitlement contract will cease on January 31, 2023.
This means the six contractors that are currently mining on the mine will no longer be able to mine and use the Optimum coal terminal (OCT) to transport coal to the RBCT.
While addressing the media on December 7, Optimum’s General Manager Howard Pyoos said Section 189 notices have already been handed to over 1 500 contractors.
He added that at least 11 people depend on one person’s salary.
The job losses will affect mainly Hendrina and Middelburg residents.
Since 2020, six contractors have been mining at Optimum and paying royalty fees that have been aiding to keep the mine afloat, and employ over 2 000 people.
The mine was placed under business recuse and thousands were retrenched.
To add fuel to the mine’s woes, the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) has been looking into the forfeiture of the mine and Optimum coal terminal to the government.
On Wednesday, workers and community members picketed outside the mine’s gate.
The district mayor, Leah Mabuza, and Steve Tshwete Local Municipality Executive Mayor, Mhlonishwa Masilela, were given a memorandum from the picketers.