Just like when you grow up there are things that you desire in a toy store, there are assets I desire to own

Seriti Resources CEO Mike Teke has reiterated that Seriti wants to become a coal exporter — and that it would be interested in buying the assets and quotas of the Gupta family’s Optimum Coal.

BusinessLIVE reported in March that Teke had an eye on the mine.

Bidding for Optimum Coal would pit Seriti, which has ambitions to become a black-owned mining champion, against bigger miner Exxaro, which has expressed interest in buying Optimum’s coal export quotas.

Optimum, which is in business rescue, has not clarified whether its assets are up for sale but Teke, who is also a shareholder in Seriti, used to own a stake in the company until Glencore bid for it in 2011.

“Yes I am interested,” Teke told Reuters on the sidelines of a mining conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

“I still believe I can run the mine, I still believe I can add value, I still believe I can change the bad things that have happened at that mine.”

Seriti already owns three coal mines, acquired a year ago from Anglo American in a $166m deal that marked the first step in creating what Teke, a teacher turned mining boss, aims to become a publicly traded South African black-owned mining company.

Seriti is co-owned by four black anchor shareholders — Teke’s investment company, Masimong Group; Thebe Investments; Zungu Investments (Zico); and Community Investment Holdings (CIH).

Seriti currently produces thermal coal for Eskom power stations that collectively generate about 23% of SA’s electricity, but Teke said it wants to move into exporting coal.

“My vision is I want Seriti to move into that tier where it’s a mining house that people will think of,” said Teke, a former chairman of industry group the Chamber of Mines (now the Minerals Council SA).

Running Optimum again would be a major step forward.

“Just like when you grow up there are things that you desire in a toy store, there are assets I desire to own,” he said, referring to Optimum Coal.

Bloomberg reports have suggested Glencore is also weighing buying back Optimum, which it sold to Oakbay Investments, owned by the Gupta family, for R2.1bn in 2016.

Glencore declined to comment on the matter on Wednesday.


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