TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – The joint venture that holds the Kolwezi tailings project, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has now been informed it faces liquidation, Vancouver-based First Quantum reported on Wednesday.
Kingamyambo Musonoi Tailings (KMT) is 65% owned by First Quantum, while DRC government company Gécamines holds 12,5%, South Africa's Industrial Development Corporation owns 10%, the International Finance Corporation has 7,5% and the government of the DRC owns 5%.
Last September, the DRC government closed the Kolwezi tailings project site, and that was followed by a court judgement in March ordering First Quantum and its partners to pay damages totalling more than $12-billion to the government.
The Canadian company, together with the IDC and the IFC, have brought an international arbitration case to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), with the DRC government and Gecamines as defendants, in an attempt to uphold their rights to the project.
But in the latest development, a notice was received by KMT on August 2, that the appeals court had “decided that KMT is in the process of being liquidated and appointed a Congolese liquidator”.
“The company believes that this judgement is yet a further step taken by the DRC and Gecamines to transfer the assets of the Kolwezi project to a third party notwithstanding and without regard to the ongoing international arbitration before the ICC,” First Quantum said.
The company was not given an opportunity to make any written submission on the case, and the summons for the court proceedings were served on KMT with just five days notice, it said.
First Quantum is considering “all available means of recourse” and is filing for a ruling from the ICC that would protect its interests pending the outcome of the international arbitration.
The Supreme Court in the DRC also ruled in May this year that rights awarded for the company's Lonshi and Frontier copper mines had been awarded illegally.