Chinese Lithium miner challenges license revocation in court

Niël Terblanché

Chinese lithium miner, Xinfeng Investments, has approached the High Court of Namibia with an urgent application to stop the Ministry of Mines and Energy from enforcing its decision to revoke its mining license.

The Minister of Mines and Energy, Tom Alweendo, at the end of last week, informed the head of the mining company, Zhou Hao, of his decision to revoke Mining License 243 situated in the Exclusive Prospecting License (EPL) 7228 area near the small desert settlement of Uis.

“Consequent to the afore decision, you are instructed to cease any and all operations related to the granting of ML 243 in the EPL 7228 area by 31 May 2023,” Alweendo ordered in his letter to Zhou.

The mining Minister also instructed the lithium miner to surrender the physical mining license document to the Mining Commissioner at the Head Quarters of the Ministry of Mines and in Windhoek.

The mining license was awarded because the company promised to process the mineral in Namibia before export. However, the miner exported 54 000 tons of the mineral ore to China while claiming that it was only a test sample.

The company used special tipper trucks to transport the ore to the Walvis Bay harbour which increased doubts that even intended to build a processing plant or process the Lithium on Namibian soil.

At one stage the company was prevented from mining because was conducting mining operations without an environmental clearance certificate.

Besides allegations of fraud, theft of mining claims and extortion, the local community of Daures also protested against the mining operation because they have been excluded from participating in the project. Community members also claimed that the company was illegally mining in certain areas.

In its Notice of Motion filed at the High Court, Xinfeng Investments, stated that pending the determination of part B of their application, the respondents, which include: The Minister of Mines and Energy, the Mining Commissioner, and the Environmental Commissioner, are interdicted and restrained from implementing in any manner the first respondent’s decision taken on or about 28 April 2023 to revoke applicant’s mining license ML 243.

The applicant requested the court to suspend the first respondent’s decision to revoke the applicant’s mining license ML 243 with immediate effect and that it shall have no force and effect until the final determination of Part B proceedings, and the relief sought therein.

In part B of their Notice of Motion, the applicant intends to make an application to the High Court on a date still to be arranged with the registrar for an order to declare the first respondent’s decision taken on or about 28 April 2023 to revoke the applicant’s mining license unlawful and invalid and that it must be reviewed, corrected, and set aside.

The applicant also indicated that it will show during the urgent application procedures that the conduct of the first respondent and his decision to revoke the applicant’s mining license are declared ultra vires and contrary to the terms and provisions of the Minerals (Prospecting and Mining) Act, 33 of 1992.

The applicant will seek an order from the court that will declare the minister’s actions unconstitutional and invalid.

The applicant also called on the first respondent to provide a complete record and file of his decision together with reasons for the decision within 15 days.

Xinfeng Investments also requested the High Court for an order to direct the first respondent and any other litigant opposing the matter to pay for the costs of the lawsuit.

Related Posts