Australian miner Sundance Resources has referred its dispute with the Cameroon government to arbitration at the International Chamber of Commerce, based in Paris, France.
Sundance says its grievance arose when Cameroon failed to implement an exploitation permit that was due to Sundance’s subsidiary Cam Iron in 2010.
The company says the government’s failure to implement the exploitation permit, along with other acts and omissions, constitutes a breach of the 2015 transition agreement between Sundance, Cam Iron and the Cameroon government, as well as a violation of international law.
Sundance and Cam Iron had agreed to extend the period of negotiations with Cameroon because it appeared that some progress was being made towards an amicable settlement of the dispute.
However, Sundance explains that Cameroon is yet to take further implementation steps.
CEO Giulio Casello says Sundance has been left with no choice but to start arbitration against the government of Cameroon.
“Notwithstanding our good-faith attempts to achieve a negotiated settlement, the government of Cameroon has refused to give effect to our mining licence and now appears to be working with the government of Congo to strip us of our rights to the Mbalam-Nabeba project and grant them to Chinese parties, who have done nothing and spent nothing in either country, in stark contrast to our shareholders and stakeholders who have invested vast amounts of time and money to get this world-class iron ore project to the highly advanced stage it is at today.”
Casello believes it is no coincidence that these events are occurring at a time when iron-ore prices are at record highs and China is seeking to diversify its iron-ore supplies away from Australia.
“We remain open to constructive negotiations with both governments and their Chinese partners. However, we believe that, in the current circumstances, arbitration will bring about the best results for our shareholders and stakeholders.