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Kumba to be charged in rights dispute

Source: News24 Date: 17 August 2011

Pretoria - The government will lay criminal charges against Kumba Iron Ore [JSE:KIO] over its application for a mining right over the company’s Sishen mine it did not yet own, a lawyer for the department of minerals resources said on Wednesday.

Willie Vermeulen, a lawyer for the department, told the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria that more details on the charges would be provided later.

A Kumba spokesperson said the group - a unit of global miner Anglo American [JSE:AGL] - would comment on the matter later.

The state’s move is the latest twist in a tale that has unnerved investors and led to allegations of graft and political favouritism in the resource-rich country.

Shares in Kumba extended losses after the news and the stock was trading 1.11% lower at R451.92.

Disputes over mineral rights have highlighted transparency and governance issues after some had been awarded to people linked to high-ranking officials, sometimes over areas that were already being mined.

The dispute in court, which is at the heart of an ongoing battle between Kumba and the South African unit of steel giant ArcelorMittal SA [JSE:ACL], could further unnerve mining companies in the top producing country for platinum and ferrochrome and a major supplier of gold and iron ore.

Kumba has challenged the state’s award of a prospecting right over a stake in Kumba’s Sishen mine to little-known yet politically connected Imperial Crown Trading (ICT).

Kumba’s allegations of fraud and corruption led last month to an unprecedented raid of the minerals ministry by the Hawks, which analysts interpreted as signalling serious flaws within a key government department.

Pretoria - The government will lay criminal charges against Kumba Iron Ore [JSE:KIO] over its application for a mining right over the company’s Sishen mine it did not yet own, a lawyer for the department of minerals resources said on Wednesday.

Willie Vermeulen, a lawyer for the department, told the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria that more details on the charges would be provided later.

A Kumba spokesperson said the group - a unit of global miner Anglo American [JSE:AGL] - would comment on the matter later.

The state’s move is the latest twist in a tale that has unnerved investors and led to allegations of graft and political favouritism in the resource-rich country.

Shares in Kumba extended losses after the news and the stock was trading 1.11% lower at R451.92.

Disputes over mineral rights have highlighted transparency and governance issues after some had been awarded to people linked to high-ranking officials, sometimes over areas that were already being mined.

The dispute in court, which is at the heart of an ongoing battle between Kumba and the South African unit of steel giant ArcelorMittal SA [JSE:ACL], could further unnerve mining companies in the top producing country for platinum and ferrochrome and a major supplier of gold and iron ore.

Kumba has challenged the state’s award of a prospecting right over a stake in Kumba’s Sishen mine to little-known yet politically connected Imperial Crown Trading (ICT).

Kumba’s allegations of fraud and corruption led last month to an unprecedented raid of the minerals ministry by the Hawks, which analysts interpreted as signalling serious flaws within a key government department.

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