The Competition Tribunal has dismissed the South African Energy Forum’s (SAEF’s) application to intervene in proceedings regarding the proposed large merger between Thabong Coal and South32 South Africa Coal Holdings (South African Energy Coal or SAEC).
It has, however, given the Phola communities leave to intervene on limited grounds.
Thabong is a subsidiary of Seriti Resources Holdings, which has long-term supply contracts with power utility Eskom.
In a statement issued on October 21, the tribunal confirmed that an order to costs had been reserved, but it has yet to give its reasons for dismissing the SAEF’s intervention application.
While reasons will be given in due course, the tribunal said the SAEF had applied to the tribunal to be an intervenor in the merger proceedings and confirmed its availability for the hearing that was held on October 16.
However, it said the SAEF subsequently emailed the tribunal on October 12 and 14, saying it was no longer available to attend the virtual hearing.
A formal postponement application was not received and the organisation was not present during the virtual hearing.
Meanwhile, in a separate statement on October 21, the tribunal said the Phola communities – comprising the Phola Mining Community Development Trust and the Phola Ogies Rural Mining Forum Community Cluster – had been granted leave to intervene on limited grounds in the tribunal’s proceedings involving the proposed merger.
The Phola communities recently applied to the tribunal for leave to intervene in the merger proceedings. During the virtual hearing on October 16, the parties indicated that they had reached an agreement relating to the scope of the Phola communities’ intervention.
The tribunal raised certain issues with both parties regarding this, and has issued an order which, in effect, recognises the Phola communities as participants in upcoming proceedings.
Seriti says it has also been engaging with a range of structures that represent a broad spectrum of the communities surrounding the SAEC operations and will continue to do so.
Meanwhile, Seriti says it is optimistic that the tribunal will make a decision on the merger before year-end. The Competition Commission had previously recommended to the tribunal that it approve the transaction, subject to certain conditions.