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By News24 Wire

Wire Service

Former Gupta-linked Optimum Coal Mine goes up in flames

'We have not picked up any foul play, it is unusual but we do not want to speculate,' said Louis Klopper.

Optimum Coal Mine in Middelburg, Mpumalanga went up in flames after a fire set the mine’s conveyor belts alight on Sunday.

The Middleburg Observer reports that while it is unclear what caused the fire, it is believed that it may be sabotage.

Initial reports suggest that the fire started next to the conveyor belts and then spread onto the mine grounds.

The former Gupta-linked mine, which supplied coal to Eskom, had gone under business rescue in February 2018.

Gupta-owned Tegeta bought Optimum from Glencore in 2016 for R2.15bn in a deal shrouded in mystery, Fin24 previously reported.

Business rescue practitioner, Louis Klopper told News24 on Monday he did not want to speculate on the circumstances surrounding the incident.

“One of the overhead transmission cables fell down into the dry grass and set it alight, simple as that.

“We have not picked up any foul play, it is unusual but we do not want to speculate,” he explained.

Klopper further told News24 that while the damage was still being assessed, his rough estimate points to between R15m to R20m.

Policed are currently investigating the matter. More to follow.

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