African Consolidated Resources (ACR) plc claims last year’s High Court judgment confirming the validity of its mining title in Chiadzwa is back in force, following government’s withdrawal of an appeal against the ruling and its subsequent Supreme Court appeal against the rescission judgment delivered early this month.
The AIM-listed resources company also claims it has earned strong grounds to win the appeal, although the process may drag on for another year, taking the case into its fourth year.
On the seventh of this month, the High Court cancelled ACR’s diamond mining claims in Chiadzwa on grounds the miner had won its case in September last year based on evidence “made fraudulently and with intent to mislead”.
Through the judgment, the High Court rescinded its earlier ruling, giving the diversified mining company rights over a concession area measuring 2 000 hectares – about 2% of the alluvial diamond-rich area.
In a statement posted on its website on Monday, ACR claimed the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and other parties had “withdrawn their appeal against the September 2009 H C Judgment”, technically bringing the initial judgment back into force.
“This withdrawal coupled with the rescission appeal has the result that the original judgment concerning ACR’s valid title (i.e. the September 2009 High Court judgment) is now in force,” ACR said, claiming this had enhanced its chances of winning the appeal against the rescission judgment.
“Legal opinion given to the company is to the effect that the company’s prospects of success on appeal against the rescission judgment are extremely strong.”
ACR lodged an appeal against the rescission judgment in the Supreme Court a day after Justice Charles Hungwe announced the recession judgment, and upon receiving and reviewing the written judgment.
In its grounds of the appeal, the company argues that the rescission judgment is “grossly improper in that it was legally flawed and based on uncorroborated allegations”.
It also claims that the judge erred firstly, “by making several procedural errors”; secondly, “by making significant errors in interpretation of the law” and lastly “by drawing conclusions that were not sustainable upon the evidence before him and defied all logic”.
In appealing against the first ruling, government argued ACR had fraudulently acquired the mining concessions for investment vehicles which were still unregistered at the time and these included Dashaloo, Heavy Stuff, Olebile and Possession Investments.
Earlier in February, the Mines and Mining Development ministry had cancelled the company’s diamond title in Chiadzwa on the same grounds.
But the miner vehemently denies the allegation, pointing out that the ground in question had fallen open at the time it applied in March 2006.
The ground was held by De Beers since the 1970s, but fell open the same month after the global diamond giant decided not to renew its EPO when they expired.
ACR claims that it pegged its concession area the same month and commenced exploration and later reported that it had discovered economic diamond deposits within the lamproite class.
But two months later, ACR was ejected while it was still moving its equipment to the site.