Core Mining dispute — Supreme Court reserves ruling

HARARE - Core Mining and Minerals (Private) Ltd has said government cannot continue to benefit from investments in the Marange diamond project after failing to recognise a joint venture agreement of the now defunct Canadile Miners.

This comes after the High Court stopped arbitration proceedings that were instituted by Core Mining in its bid to reclaim shareholding and assets acquired during the joint venture.

Canadile Miners was a joint venture between Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, which owns Marange Resources and Lovemore Kurotwi’s Core Mining to extract diamonds in Marange.

The joint venture deal ended after fraud allegations were raised against Kurotwi over the manner in which the shareholders’ agreement was signed between the parties.

Kurotwi, who is former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) chief executive, was arrested together with the firm’s ex-manager Dominic Mubaiwa.

The State claims the two defrauded the government of $2 billion, after allegations that they entered the joint venture agreement with an undeserving company, Core Mining.

However, while the duo was being tried on the fraud allegations, Core Mining took the civil case for arbitration. The Law Society of Zimbabwe appointed Moses Chinhengo to be the arbitrator, forcing Marange Resources, through its lawyer Thabani Mpofu, to file an urgent chamber application, seeking an order to stall the arbitration process.

Marange Resources appealed to the Supreme Court, contesting the appointment of an arbitrator to deal with the case, and the subsequent ruling that the matter cannot be heard on an urgent basis.

Core Mining lawyer Lewis Uriri said Marange Resources’ appeal lacked merit and that the firm itself had failed to treat the matter as urgent.

He said Marange Resources had all the time to make an application before the arbitration process was set in motion.

Uriri told the court ZMDC cannot continue to use Core Mining equipment or benefit from the firm’s investments in the Marange project, if government failed to recognise the joint venture agreement.

He said since an arbitrator was appointed in February last year, Marange Resources did not take any action to arrest the process.

“It is at that stage that they sought to have approached the court, but they did not,” Uriri said.

He said it was clear that Marange Resources did not treat the matter as urgent, adding that the firm only waited for the day of reckoning to take action.

“The appeal is without merit and ought to fall,” he said.

However, Marange Resources lawyer said the court had misdirected itself by ruling that the matter was not urgent.

Mpofu told deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba, judges Ben Hlatshwayo and Antonia Guvava that Kurotwi, as Core Mining’s director and shareholder, he was not supposed to deposit an affidavit on behalf of the company, considering that the firm is under liquidation.

He said according to law, once a company is placed under liquidation, all power of the directors are suspended and can only be exercised by the liquidator.

“The issues were not properly deposited before the court and not subject to recognisance,” Mpofu said, adding that the liquidator was supposed to be the one to deposit an affidavit in the proceedings.

He said the liquidator has not yet been recognised in Zimbabwe.

The Supreme Court reserved ruling in the application.

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