A PRIVATE mining company, Avoseh Investments (Pvt) (Ltd) (Avoseh) has been interdicted from mining lithium at a 25-hectare block within Sandawana Mine mining claim.
This comes after Sandawana Mine, owned by Kuvimba Mining House (KMH) filed an application at the High Court seeking an interdict against Avoseh which has been carrying out mining activities on its claim.
The two companies have been locked in an ownership wrangle with the Midlands provincial mining commissioner having ruled in favour of Avoseh.
Sandawana appealed against the commissioner’s ruling and the matter awaits determination.
The mining company also cited Mines and Mining Development minister, permanent secretary and the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) as respondents.
Kuvimba sought an interdict complaining that it risks being prejudiced if Avoseh continues mining lithium from its claim.
High Court judge, Justice Esther Muremba, in a recent judgment ordered Avoseh to stop mining activities at the claim.
Muremba ruled: “The applicant is perfectly entitled to bring an application for review to this court. I am, therefore, satisfied that the applicant has thus established that it has a prima facie right to have the dispute between the parties determined to finality.
“Clearly, the interdict that the applicant is seeking is justified. The interdict is also important in that it protects the applicant’s interests in the mineral pending the outcome of the review application. It is common cause that right now the first respondent is continuing to mine on the disputed area.
“If this continues, lithium being a finite resource will be exhausted. It means that if the judgment in the review matter turns in favour of the applicant, that judgment will be a brutum fulman (an ineffectual legal judgment).
“Therefore, it is my considered view that it is necessary to grant the application so as to preserve the res litigiosa pendente lite. I am satisfied that there is no other satisfactory remedy than the interdict being sought which will preserve the res litigiosa (interim interdict for stay of execution) and immediately arrest the harm that the first respondent is causing.”
According to court papers, apparently the applicant which has a registered mining claim “Lith 15” (Registration Claim GM 8172 BM) is locked in a serious mining dispute of encroachment with Avoseh which has a registered mining claim “Sandawana AV8” (Registration Number 17332BM).
As a result of the encroachment dispute, the two parties are claiming the disputed area.
Sandawana initially reported the dispute to the Midlands province mining commissioner after realising that Avoseh was extracting lithium from the disputed area.
After carrying out investigations, on April 24, 2023, the provincial mining director gave a determination in favour of Avoseh after establishing that Sandawana had failed to maintain its beacons in breach of s51(7) (Beaconing of locations) of the Mines and Minerals Act [Chapter 21:05].
Sandawana was then ordered to confine itself to its original beacons.
Dissatisfied with the decision, Sandawana then took the matter to the High Court for a review to set aside the decision on the grounds that the provincial mining director had no jurisdiction to determine the dispute and that his findings were grossly unreasonable.
It further filed a court application for a declaratory order under case number HC3572/23 seeking the nullification of the Avoseh claim.
The ground for this was that Avoseh’s claim was registered on an area which was not open to prospecting and pegging and that the registration was done in violation of the environmental management laws.
Meanwhile, Avoseh also filed an application for a declarator under HC 4766/23 wherein it sought an order for the nullification of Sandawana’s “Lith 15” mining claim.
The three matters were consolidated under HC4770/23 and are pending.
It is on this basis that Sandawana is seeking an anti-dissipation interdict in order to bar Avoseh from continuing with the extraction of lithium pending the determination of these matters.
In opposing the application, Avoseh argued that it was lawfully carrying out all its mining operations. – (Newsday)