Avarmma Mining Company Limited, a Russian owned company has applied for judicial review in the Lusaka High Court challenging the decision by Mines Minister Christopher Yaluma to hand over a mining licence to the Kasempa Community and ZCCM Investment Holdings Plc.
Avarmma Mining Company Limited contends that it owns Large Processing Licence number for Katokamema Mines which it says was irregularly transferred to the residents and to ZCCM-IH.
The company has since sued the Attorney General as first respondent and ZCCM-IH Plc as the second respondent.
Government handed over a large scale prospecting licence to Kasempa community to enable them manage mineral resources in the area to achieve development.
Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Christopher Yaluma said Government decided to issue the prospecting licence for Katokameema Mine to the community due to in-fighting that had erupted between Senior Chief Kasempa and Chief Ingwe over mining rights.
Mr Yaluma is optimistic that the model will enable the people of Kasempa get meaningful gains from the natural resources in their area and help create the much needed wealth, jobs and infrastructure.
During the handover ceremony of the community mine on Saturday, Mr Yaluma said Government has engaged ZCCM Investments Holdings Plc (ZCCM-IH) to provide guidance and expertise to Katokameema mine.
Kasempa Royal Establishment praised Government for giving the people of Kasempa a large scale prospecting mining licence to enable them carry out exploration of minerals in the Katoka-meema area.KRE spokesperson Norman Katombela said the people of Kasempa were overjoyed with Government’s decision.
Mr. Katombela praised Government for listening to the plight of the people of Kasempa district. He said the district has been languishing in poverty since its establishment in 1991.
Mr Katombela said the mine would help eradicate poverty and the high levels of unemployment among the youths.
However according to court papers seen, Avarmma Mining Company Directors were shocked to learn that Mr Yaluma without granting them the right to be heard in line with Section 150 (3) of the Mines and Minerals Act number 7 of 2008 cancelled their mining licence.
It stated the transfer of the licence was decided without tabling the matter with the Mining Advisory Committee, a statutory committee which was created under Section 150 (1) of Act number 7 of 2008.
It also submitted the Minister of Mines is not a member of Mining Advisory Committee adding that he cannot exercise is powers without consultation with the Committee.
Avarmma Mining Company is seeking relief on grounds that the issue of the hearing of any person that would be affected is not discretionary but mandatory saying the Applicant should have been heard by the Mining Advisory Committee before arriving at the decision that has seriously affected it including depriving it of the Mine and all its investments.
It said, “The area where Katokamena Mine is located is subject of the Applicants application dated 26th May 2014 under Application number 19841-HQ-LPL which application is still before the Mining Advisory Committee pending the Environmental Impact Assessment reports.”
Avarmma Mining Company contended that being a holder of the said Large Scale Prospecting Licence who even is in possession of the Mining Area where Environmental Impact Assessment tests are being conducted should have been heard.
It said if the Applicant had committed any offence, they should have been prosecuted under the Act adding that they have been deprived of the Mine without notice or any reasons and without being heard.
There are allegations that Avarmma have been investigated by the security wings for fraudulent activities in the manner they (Avarmma) obtained the prospecting license from Lion Resources, who were the original owners of the tenement.