Imperial Crown seeks Sishen access

[] — Imperial Crown Trading 289 (ICT) has advised Kumba Iron Ore it wants to access the Sishen mine site in order to investigate ways in which it can exercise its controversially gained prospecting rights.

Should ICT exercise his rights, it would force production at the Sishen mine, one of the world’s biggest iron-ore producers, to a standstill.

Jagdish Parekh, the controlling shareholder in ICT, told Miningmx’s sister site in an exclusive interview his company needed to apply to Kumba for access to the property in order to discover how best to exercise its rights. Kumba has been asked to respond within 14 days so that ICT can take its geologists and technical teams there.

On Friday Kumba confirmed that it had received the notice from ICT’s legal representatives, but had informed ICT it was denying it access to Sishen pending finalisation of a review of the rights awarded to ICT.

Kumba’s legal head Robert Botha – in a declaration that forms part of court documents – has spelled out the consequences if ICT should gain access to the site.

He stated Kumba would have to halt its production of iron ore, because geological aerial surveys cannot be done while blasting is in progress. Blasting is done every day at Sishen, said Botha.p>

According to him, Kumba will also have to remove all heavy machinery and vehicles, as well as all electrical equipment, because their presence on the mining site would disturb geophysical surveys.

Earlier this year in a highly controversial manner ICT gained the rights that had previously belonged to ArcelorMittal before they lapsed. As a consequence Kumba no longer delivers iron ore to ArcelorMittal at bargain prices, which to the end of last year had been saving ArcelorMittal up to R4bn a year.

Meanwhile, Anglo American stated in court documents the rights of the Sishen mine was being “grabbed” in a similar fashion to how former Zimbabwean farmers were disposed of their farms.

At the end of May, Kumba submitted a court application to the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to contest the decision by the department of minerals.

However, the court file – a legal public document – has since disappeared. It is apparently illegally being withheld from public view to prevent it being disclosed and sour relations between Anglo and the government, which could nullify chances of a settlement over the Sishen rights.

Anglo, by far the largest holder of mineral rights in the country, is seemingly attempting to avoid a court confrontation, preferring to reach a negotiated settlement via a review by the department of mineral resources.

Kumba chairman, Lazarus Zim, said on Friday that with immediate effect he was recusing himself as a board member from any proceedings related to the Sishen rights.

“The chairman considers that, as a matter of principle, and for the
avoidance of doubt as to the integrity of the processes that are currently
underway, it is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders
that he recuse himself from these processes with immediate effect,” Kumba

Zim would continue to serve as chairman of the board and to lead all other board matters, Kumba said.

Zim is a director and shareholder of Sahara Computers, which is owned by the Gupta brothers, who are reportedly very close to Jacob Zuma, the president of the country and the ruling party, and his family, the South African weekly Mail & Guardian newspaper reported.

The Gupta’s Oakbay Trust is a sizeable shareholder in Zim’s Afripalm Resources, which controls Mvelaphanda Resources (Mvela).

Jagdish Parekh, who is an executive of Gupta companies, heads a firm called JIC Mining, which holds half of Imperial Crown Trading 289 (ICT), the firm that was awarded the 21.4% stake in Sishen iron ore mine.