Kumba Dispute on Sishen Ownership Returns to S. Africa Court

A dispute over Kumba Iron Ore Ltd.’s Sishen mine returned to South African courts as the state seeks to overturn rulings preventing it granting a prospecting permit to a company held by business partners of the president’s son.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Imperial Crown Trading 289 (Pty) Ltd. argue the award of all rights in Africa’s biggest iron-ore mine to Sishen Iron Ore, a unit of Anglo American Plc’s Kumba, was a mistake that can be rectified, according to the Constitutional Court, the nation’s highest.

“Applicants argue that the matter raises a constitutional issue since it relates to the interpretation of legislation giving effect to the transformative objectives” of mining legislation, the court said today in an explanatory note.

Sishen Iron Ore argues that the dispute is commercial and doesn’t raise constitutional issues, the court said.

The Supreme Court of Appeal in March upheld a 2011 ruling that overturned the award of a prospecting permit to Imperial, which has owners including a business partner of South African President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane.

The Constitutional Court heard arguments from all parties and has yet to say when it will announce its judgment.