Select Page

Daniel Terblanche says the ongoing litigation has complicated the rescue proceedings. From Moneyweb.

Vantage’s Barbrook and Lily mines were placed in business rescue nearly eight years ago, and there is still no end in sight to the proceedings. Image: Vantage Goldfields
Vantage’s Barbrook and Lily mines were placed in business rescue nearly eight years ago, and there is still no end in sight to the proceedings. Image: Vantage Goldfields

Daniel Terblanche this week resigned as joint business rescue practitioner (BRP) of Vantage Goldfields, citing a difference of opinion with fellow BRP Rob Devereux.

“The ongoing litigation has complicated the business rescue proceedings. Regrettably, the practitioners were unable to participate in the litigation because we were not sufficiently financially resourced to do so,” writes Terblanche in his letter of resignation to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).

Vantage’s two Mpumalanga mines, Barbrook and Lily, were placed in business rescue nearly eight years ago after an underground pillar collapse claimed the lives of three workers. Two companies are battling it out to take control of the operations – Vantage, backed by Macquarie Metals of Australia, and Arqomanzi, backed by Hong Kong investors.

The two combatants have been locked in a series of legal suits, some of them going all the way up to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) – and all being decided in favour of Arqomanzi, which entered the picture when it purchased Standard Bank’s loan claims against Vantage, making it the largest creditor. 

A recent SCA ruling found in favour of Arqomanzi’s claim to be the largest creditor in Vantage. In theory, that means the BRPs must amend their business rescue plans and put them to a vote of creditors. That means Arqomanzi, as the largest creditor with more than 50% of the vote, would emerge triumphant.

However, in the past week, Vantage filed an urgent application in the Johannesburg High Court asking it to order the implementation of a 2018 business rescue plan that effectively excludes Arqomanzi as a creditor.

“The relationship between the practitioners has deteriorated considerably during the last week,” says Terblanche’s resignation letter to the CIPC. “The practitioners have secured advice on the urgent application, and I adopted a stance in relation to the business rescue proceedings and the urgent application. The stance I so adopted is not shared by Mr Devereux (who subsequently obtained advice from his own attorneys and counsel).

“The practitioners have diverging views on how to deal with the matter and whether or not to participate in the current proceedings; and what the line of argument ought to be.”

Moneyweb reached out to Devereux for comment but did not receive a reply.

Criticism and outrage

It’s been a bitter and protracted battle over who gets to own and control the mines.

ActionSA’s Herman Mashaba has been particularly critical of Vantage’s management of the mine and has made several visits to the site, where families of the three buried workers have maintained a vigil for more than 1 700 days outside the Lily mine gate. 

Trade union Solidarity recently added its voice to the chorus of outrage at the eight-year delay in getting the mines operational again.

“Solidarity is deeply concerned that your inaction as BRPs has dragged out the business rescue proceedings of Vantage Goldfields Limited (VGL), Mimco and Barbrook (the three companies in business rescue) to over seven years when the Companies Act provides for a speedy resolution in the business rescue process,” wrote Gideon du Plessis, Solidarity general secretary, in an open letter to the BRPs.

Read: Inquest finds lack of safety checks at Lily mine caused workers’ deaths

Solidarity has asked the BRPs to provide a clear indication as to whether they have opposed “the frivolous, delay tactic attempt by Vantage Goldfield to start another delay campaign”.

“We have also not been convinced of your conduct as BRPs by providing a decisive role in the business rescue process. Our legal team is also puzzled by the reasons why Vantage Goldfield [is] making this application in the Gauteng High Court as opposed to the Mpumalanga High Court.

“We, therefore, request that you urgently provide us with copies of your filed notice to oppose and keep us appraised of the action you as BRPs will be taking to halt [these] frivolous and delaying tactics employed by Vantage Goldfield once again.”

Du Plessis says the ongoing injustice suffered by workers and the community may force it to approach the courts for a contempt application and file “substantial complaints against your conduct with SAICA (SA Institute of Chartered Accountants) and the Turnaround Management Association responsible for your professional conduct”.