ZAMBIA Consolidated Copper Mines-Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) chief executive officer Pius Kasolo has denied reports that President Lungu directed the institution to withdraw a fraud court case against First Quantum Minerals (FQM) in which it is demanding US$1.4 billion from the mining giant.
Dr Kasolo said the President has never issued such instructions to ZCCM-IH and that the case is still active in court.
“President Lungu didn’t direct us to withdraw the matter. We are still in court against FQM but we are not happy to take our partners to court just like in marriage, when you cannot resolve a dispute with a spouse wife, you involve a third party and in this case, it is within the rights of ZCCM-IH to engage the courts.
“The position is that the case is active but we are also negotiating, and if they provide certain financial documents we have requested for to meet our claims, then maybe we can settle the matter out of court,” he said.
ZCCM-IH has a 20 percent stake in FQM and started legal proceedings last November in the Lusaka and London high courts, claiming that FQM took out a loan from Kansanshi Mines at non-commercial interest rates and used it for company operations outside Zambia and to develop the Kalumbila Mines without the consent of ZCCM-IH as a shareholder in Kansanshi mine.
FQM is accused of fraud and ZCCM-IH is seeking as much as US$1.4 billion, including US$228 million in interest and 20 percent of the principal amount or US$570 million.
Last May, social media reports emerged that President Lungu directed ZCCM-IH to discontinue the case.
Dr Kasolo dismissed assertions that ZCCM-IH is spending a lot of money in legal fees to pursue disputes that can be resolved amicably.
“The FQM case is still active, so we have not reached a conclusion to arrive at the fees. For Konkola Copper Mines [KCM], a similar incident occurred and the London Court awarded ZCCM-IH US$103 million, and KCM was ordered to refund 80 percent of the legal fees amounting to £180,000,” Dr Kasolo said.