Kumba responds to Sishen right uncertainty

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[miningmx.com] — KUMBA Iron Ore on Thursday drew a line under possible uncertainty over its 78.6% mining right in Sishen, arguing its right was secure in accordance with the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Development Act (MPRDA).

The legal team of Imperial Crown Trading 289, in the North Gauteng High Court case over the disputed 21.4% right in Sishen, on Wednesday posed questions over the status of the 78.6% right, saying Kumba had not lodged the converted right which was granted to it by Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) for registration on time.

Kumba’s Senior Counsel Chris Loxton responded the new order right was still intact following its conversion. He said the MPRDA did not make provision for a new order right to be reverted should the holder fail to lodge for registration on time; the only sanction available was for the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) to lay a charge against the holder for committing an offence.

Also, the MPRDA only made provision for two circumstances in which an old order right could be terminated: upon conversion to a new order right or when the holder had failed to submit the right for conversion prior to April 30 2009.

In its argument on the issue on Wednesday, ICT said the right was only lodged for registration in December 2009, whereas Kumba was already notified about the conversion in May 2008. A converted right should be submitted for registration within 90 days of notification.

A Kumba spokesperson told Miningmx the 78.6% right was originally lodged in time, but had to be rectified due to a small inaccuracy in a diagram. “There were subsequent delays by the DMR leading to the final lodging date,’ she said. “However, there is no penalisation and the conversion and execution of the rights cannot be reversed.

“The rights stand and have been awarded to Sishen and are “not available’ as implied by ICT.’

WORRYING EXAMPLE

On the issue of government’s insistence on awarding prospecting rights in Sishen to ICT despite serious irregularities involved, Loxton said it was a worrying example of the exercise of state power.

Instead of investigating the irregularities, government was threatening Kumba with prosecution, Loxton said, objecting to a remark by the state’s Senior Counsel Willie Vermeulen that government would institute criminal charges of fraud against Kumba.

Loxton described Vermeulen’s threat as irresponsible and without legal foundation.

All parties in the case delivered closing arguments on Thursday. “Unfortunately I cannot promise you a judgment next week,’ said Judge Raymond Zondo. “I cannot promise you by when a judgment would be available. This is quite a complex matter.’

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