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Vedanta's headquarters in Mumbai, India. Picture: REUTERS/DANISH SIDDIQUI
Vedanta's headquarters in Mumbai, India. Picture: REUTERS/DANISH SIDDIQUI

Lusaka — Zambia’s decision three years ago to take control of a copper mine in the country’s north will be subject to an arbitration hearing in January in London, the country’s mines minister said on Wednesday, amid a lengthy dispute over the mine’s ownership.

Zambia in May 2019 handed control of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to a state-appointed provisional liquidator, triggering a legal battle with its previous owner, India-listed Vedanta, with arguments heard in Zambia and SA and the dispute going to international arbitration.

Zambia’s government accused Vedanta at the time of failing to honour licence conditions, including promised investment — accusations that Vedanta has denied.

Mines minister Paul Kabuswe said the referral to arbitration came after legal rulings.

"Following the Court of Appeal’s decision to stay proceedings and refer the matter back to arbitration — a decision supported by the supreme court — a hearing is now set for January  9  2023," Kabuswe said in a statement.

"In the interim, efforts are continuing to find a solution that unlocks KCM’s potential and delivers maximum benefit to the people of Zambia."

Kabuswe again denied speculation that the government plans to give KCM back to Vedanta, saying Vedanta had "sacrificed" its licence to operate in the country.

Vedanta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company in May offered to step up investment in KCM and implement several social responsibility programmes if it resumes control of the firm.

Reuters 

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