Chinese lithium miners score victory in the High Court

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

Chinese lithium mining company, Xinfeng Investments has won its case to reinstate its 20-year mining license after Minister of Mines and Energy Minister, Tom Alweendo revoked it.

The mining company filed an urgent application with the High Court last month to challenge a decision by Alweendo, to revoke its mining license claiming the minster had no right to do so.

Acting Judge Roman Maasdorp found that the minister did not have the right to revoke the mining licence.

“The first respondent did not have the powers to revoke the license and was required to approach the court,” he said.

In addition, he ordered Alweendo to pay the cost of the lawsuit.

Alweendo had revoked Xinfeng’s license, which was issued in September last year, citing misleading, untrue, and incorrect information submitted by the company during the application process.

However, the mining company which claims to have so far invested N$200 million and to have employed more than 200 Namibians, has denied the claims made by the Minister and provided clarification regarding the reports that were submitted in error.

Alweendo claimed the lithium mining company made fraudulent and misleading statements and used plagiarised material when it applied for a mining licence.

The Minister also claimed that before he took the decision to revoke the license, he, in a letter dated 16 February 2023 informed the mining company that the technical report and the reports regarding exploration work, mineral resources and mining methods were copied from the work of others.

“In respect of the question of balance of convenience, the minister has no power to revoke a decision in respect of which he is functus officio. He can therefore not rely on a decision which he made without jurisdiction hence illegality – in contending that the balance of convenience favours the refusal of the interim interdict,” the court documents filed in the application read.

In addition, the Minister claimed that it cannot be said that he was misled and persuaded to act against his better judgment, considering the fact that he was aware of the falseness of the report before making a judgment.

The mining licence will run until 2042. Judge Maasdorp said the reasons of the ruling will be made available later.

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