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Kabuswe in mining scam

…Mines Minister, UPND Chief Whip in mining licence scandal as Argonaut Resources’ subsidiary, Mwombezhi Resources decries cancellation of Lumwna West mining licence


THE High Court has ordered Mines Minister Paul Kabuswe to reverse a decision to cancel a mining exploration licence for Argonaut Resources’ Mwombezhi Resources, which had been re-granted to a new entity over the same mining area.

The High Court has further ordered Mr Kabuswe reinstate the cancelled mining licence to Mwombezhi Resources, a subsidiary of Argonuat Resources which is owned by Lindsay Owler, an Australian investor.

The High Court has ostensibly halted the cancellation of the large-scale mining exploration licence belonging to Mwombezhi Resources, a subsidiary of Argonaut Resources of Australia, until the appeal by Mwombezhi Resources has been resolved by the Ministry of Mines.

According to formal announcement by Argonaut Resources Director and Chief Executive Officer Lindsay Owler, Mr Kabuswe has allowed the cancellation of a mining licence for Lumwana West against the legal advice of the Attorney General’s Chambers, essentially promoting a culture of state lawlessness.

Mr Owler and Mr Mulusa had been partners in the mining business with Argonaut Resources owning 90 percent shares in Mwombezhi Resources with Mr Mulusa owning 10 percent.

But now, Mr Mulusa has decided to terminate the partnership and is demanding US$1 million from Argonaut and the sale of land where Mwombezhi is conducting mining activities, which has now led to the cancellation of the mining licence.

However, in its mandamus, the High Court has stopped the purported licence cancellation and has ordered Mr Kabuswe to deal with matter within 30 days and normalize the status of the cancelled licence. 

There have been reported clandestine schemes by Mr Kabuswe in collusion with Mr Mulusa, the Solwezi Central UPND Member of Parliament to forcibly and illegally grab a large-scale exploration licence from Mwombezhi Resources Limited, a subsidiary of Argonaut Resources by way of cancellation has been exposed.

Mr Kabuswe has allegedly caused the illegal cancellation of the Lumwana West mining licence which has hastily been re-granted to a newly registered company but now, the High Court has ordered the Minister of Mines to make a decision on his illegal cancellation of the licence within 30 days.

With the High Court order, Mr Owler is now threatening that he would not hesitate to take criminal proceedings against Mr Kabuswe should he decide to ignore the High Court order to make a decision on an appeal against the cancellation of the Lumwana West mining licence.

But when contacted, both Mr Kabuswe and Mr Mulusa denied the allegations of ever getting involved in the scheme of depriving Mwombezhi Resources of its right to its mining licence.

Mr Kabuswe, who is in South Africa for a mining Indaba denied knowing anything about a licence being grabbed and quipped: “I do not grab mining licences.”

Mr Mulusa however accused his partner of lying about the licence claiming that the said licence was cancelled by the Patriotic Front (PF) administration.

Mr Owler says his company had decided to take the matter to court because it strongly believes that there was maladministration and illegal actions on the part of the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development to cancel a validly and dully awarded mining licence.

Mr Owler said the High Court mandamus order against Mr Kabuswe was meant to compel the Minister to make a decision on the appeal by Mwombezhi Resources Limited against the cancellation of the Lumwana West mining licence. 

“Argonaut Resources announces that the Zambian High Court has ordered the Minister of Mines Paul Kabuswe to decide an appeal by an Argonaut subsidiary, Mwombezhi Resources Limited. The appeal is against the purported cancellation of the Lumwana West licence and the hasty and illegal re-grant to newly registered company. The Minister must decide the appeal within 30 days. The legal action by Argonaut is aimed at the prompt reinstatement of the Lumwana West licence in North-Western Province to the company’s 90 percent held subsidiary, Mwombezhi Resources,” Mr Owler explained.

He stated that the Attorney General Chambers had attempted to broker an out of court settlement with Mr Kabuswe but that the efforts did not yield the desired result.

Mr Owler stated that the High Court Order was speaking to the three central tenets of President Hakainde Hichilema’s UPND government on the respect for the rule of law, the fight against corruption and the promotion of Zambia’s prosperity through increased copper production.

“.Argonaut’s difficulties over its cacelled mining licence have justifiable gained international profile as a test case. The court’s order provides Mr Kabuswe and the broader UPND government with excellent opportunity to demonstrate the attractiveness of Zambia as a foreign investment destination,” Mr Owler said.

Ironically, the cancelled licence is partly owned by a senior member of the governing party, the United Party for National Development (UPND) who has been in partnership with Mr Owler for several years.


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