ConCourt puts end to Sishen dispute

2013-12-12 11:43

The Constitutional Court this morning finally put an end to the country’s most high-profile mining rights dispute around 21.4% of the Sishen Iron Ore mine.

The case has revolved around the politically connected shell company Imperial Crown Trading 289’s (ICT) scoring a prospecting right to 21.4% of the Sishen mine in 2009, one of the most valuable mining properties on earth.

The ConCourt has ruled that Sishen Iron Ore Company, owned by Kumba Iron Ore, was the only entity that had any right to apply for the 21.4%.

The director-general of the department of mineral resources (DMR) was ordered to allow Sishen to re-apply for the 21.4% within three months.

The high court and then the Supreme Court of Appeal both scrapped ICT’s bonanza and in September this year the DMR as well as ICT took the fight to the highest court in the land.

Justice Chris Jafta read out two judgments addressing separate issues in the appeal case this morning.

The ConCourt granted leave to appeal to it to the DMR, but not to ICT.

It then made a punitive cost order against both ArcelorMittal South Africa (Amsa) and ICT who will be paying the significant legal costs of Sishen as well as half of the state’s costs.

The case had been fought by large legal teams including some of the country’s top advocates.

In 2009 ICT had beat out a simultaneous application for the 21.4% by Kumba Iron Ore which has owned and operated the mine for decades.

The minority share used to belong to ArcelorMittal South Africa as a legacy of it and Kumba’s common origin in the state-owned Iscor.

Amsa lost it when the country’s grace period for mining companies to have their old mining rights converted into “new order” mining rights ended on April 30 2009.

Amsa has accepted that it would lose the portion, but then Kumba used it to also cancel Amsa’s contract for cost price iron ore, making the steel company the one with the most to lose in the matter.

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