[miningmx.com] — NKWE Platinum said on Thursday it has obtained the backing of the Bengwenyama community in a new application for the prospecting rights on two farms in the Bushveld Complex.
The community last year succeeded in getting the rights to two farms set aside in a Constitutional Court challenge against Nkwe’s major shareholder Genorah Resources.
However, the Bengwenyama has denied that it has now done an about turn and supports Nkwe’s bid to prospect in the area.
In November the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of the Bengwenyama-Ya-Maswati and set aside the rights granted to Genorah on the farms Eerstegeluk and Nooitverwacht, after the community claimed it had not been properly consulted and wished to mine the area itself.
The court also ordered the department of mineral resources (DMR) to re-process the rights applications.
The ruling prompted Nkwe to suspend the trading of its shares – listed in Australia – as its grip on these and other key assets appeared precarious.
Nkwe said on Thursday it will request the ASX to resume trading next week.
Thursday’s statement came after Nkwe told investors in December the court had erred by basing the ruling on the false assumption that the Bengwenyama-Ya-Maswati were the legal owners of the Eerstegeluk property.
Nkwe then provided a statement of support from the Roka Phasha Phokwane community, which claimed to be the rightful owners of Eerstegeluk. The community had written to the Constitutional Court and raised the matter of ownership, Nkwe said.
Thursday’s statement made no further mention of the land dispute.
“The Roka Phasha and Bengwenyama communities have made joint applications together with Genorah as the economic partner for the re-awarding of the rights on both Eerste Geluk and Nooitverwacht farms,” it said.
“In Nkwe’s opinion, both communities who made the joint applications represent all relevant community interests in the two farms combined,’ it said.
Nkwe said both communities’ application together with Genorah “is significant” and the show of unity would assist the DMR to fast track the application and avoid “prolonged uncertaintly caused by the Constitutional Court decision”.
Ian Shapiro of law firm Eversheds, who represented the Bengwenyama-Ya-Maswati at the Consitutional Court, described Nkwe’s claims as “rubbish’, saying the community made a rights application immediately after the Constitutional Court made its ruling.
He said the Bengwenyama will continue to follow all processes it was afforded by the ruling in order to evenutally mine the area.
FAST TRACKED APPLICATION
Nkwe raised additional matters in the statement it put out on Thursday.
It said the DMR “has established a special working party of all relevant government departments involved in the approval process . to fast track the application process with an award expected within the shortest possible period.’
The DMR has not yet responded to Miningmx’s request for comment on the existence and mandate of such a body.
Nkwe, which listed on the ASX in 2003 has undergone a fivefold rise in market capitalisation since Genorah reversed the rights pertaining to the disputed farms into Nkwe in 2007.
African Rainbow Minerals and Anglo Platinum have also queried the awarding of prospecting rights to Genorah of Nooitverwacht, Eerstegeluk and three other farms and have asked the DMR to review this.
“From Nkwe’s perspective the matter in respect of Nkwe’s five farms was settled in February 2008 with an agreement made between Anglo Platinum, African Rainbow Minerals, Genorah Resources, Nkwe Platinum and the DMR,’ Nkwe’s statement on Thursday said.