Varun Gupta, Inside Shiva Uranium, in Haarteesfontien, North West. Picture: KEVIN SUTHERLAND
Varun Gupta, Inside Shiva Uranium, in Haarteesfontien, North West. Picture: KEVIN SUTHERLAND

The rescue of the Gupta’s embattled Shiva Uranium has sprung back into action after months of delays.

According to business rescue practitioner Christopher Monyela, Shiva workers who had not been paid since July received a full month’s salary in December. Further, a section 189 retrenchment process was completed. “The purpose is not entirely to retrench the employees,” said Monyela. “It’s also to enable the workers to get UIF [Unemployment Insurance Fund] as well as their provident funds.”

If Shiva Uranium can be sold as a going concern, these employees will be given first right of refusal, meaning the new owners must consider the former employees before hiring new workers.

The process of medical exit examinations has also now begun at Shiva. A medical exit certificate is required for any worker seeking employment at another mine.

In February 2018 Shiva Uranium and eight other Gupta-affiliated businesses were placed into business rescue — a provision of the Companies Act for helping to rehabilitate financially distressed entities. But the process has been hamstrung by disputes in recent months.

In June 2018, two rescue practitioners stepped down and were replaced by Cloete Murray and Monyela. In September Murray resigned, but before his exit, he and Monyela jointly appointed a replacement, Juanito Damons.

The Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission declined to process the filing and went on to accept a separate filing from the Shiva board to appoint two new practitioners — Mahier Tayob and Eugene Januarie.

Monyela approached the Companies Tribunal, which ordered the commission to process the filing of Damons’s appointment, as well as the form challenging the appointments of Tayob and Januarie. Tayob and Januarie, however, sought a court interdict to stop the commission from implementing the decision, pending a review of the decision. On December 21 the high court dismissed their application and the rescue has since proceeded, as led by Damons and Monyela.

Advertisements inviting prospective buyers for Shiva to come forward will be placed in February. “So, if there’s any real chance of selling operations as a going concern, it can only really happen in March,” Monyela said.

Meanwhile, an arrangement to have a third party reclaim gold from Shiva’s slime dams will begin next week and is expected to generate enough income to pay the electricity bills.

steynl@businesslive.co.za