LafargeHolcim Cement in lime mining wrangle

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Munashe Matambo
The High Court has granted an interdict against LafargeHolcim Cement Zimbabwe barring the company from mining lime on a piece of land in Pfura Rural District in Mashonaland Central.

This follows an application by African Mills and Minerals, Pinkstone Mining and Timothy Matangi, a director in both companies, claiming ownership to the piece of land.

Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Lafarge, a unit of French cement giant LafargeHolcim Group, is Zimbabwe’s second largest cement producer after PPC.

The interdict was granted recently by Justice Happius Zhou following an urgent chamber application that was filed at the High Court in Harare.

This follows an investigation conducted by the applicants who learnt from a news article that Lafarge’s intended to mine lime on the land in Pfura.

In papers filed at the High Court Matangi said that Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe pegged on ground that was not open to prospecting and pegging.

Justice Zhou also noted from submissions that Pinkstone Mining was the rightful holder of the lime mine claims, which it has held since 1996.

Matangi submitted that he instructed Godfrey Muguto, a prospector by profession, to make further investigations, which were completed last month.

According to Matangi, the investigation showed that air pegging using global positioning system was used instead of conducting ground pegging.

Had ground pegging been done as is required by law, Lafarge Cement would have noticed Pinkstone Mining’s operations on the ground.

Matangi said he felt betrayed especially after his company once engaged  Lafarge for a partnership in 2008, which had “option to purchase agreement”.

This would see Lafarge purchasing Matangi’s mining claims. However, the deal collapsed as the agreement had been set to expire by 31 January 2009.

“Immediately after the signing of the option agreement, applicants (Pinkstone Mining and African Mills and Minerals) in good faith sold at a low cost to the Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe 18 000 tonnes worth of limestone mineral ores in which the 1st respondent wanted to get samples” he added.

Lafarge Cement’s legal and compliance manager Flora Chinhaire said that the matter could have been easily resolved amicably.

She said a resolution could have been reached through correspondence or  especially by an appropriate authority such as the Mining Commissioner. However, the judge ruled out the submission.

“The remedy is not an alternative remedy to the interdict being sought in the present case as it does not achieve the same result,” he said. “In the result, the application is granted in terms of the draft provisional order as amended,” said Justice Zhou in passing the ruling.

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