Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court will hear an application on Tuesday for leave to appeal against a decision on the mining rights of properties in Kuruman in the Northern Cape.
The application is being brought by the mineral resources minister, her director general and deputy director general, and the regional manager of the department in the province, and Imperial Crown Trading (ICT).
Before the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) came into effect, Sishen Iron Ore Company and Arcelor Mittal South Africa (AMSA) both held undivided shares of a mining right in the properties on which Sishen's mine was located, and which were issued in terms of the Minerals Act of 1991.
Sishen held 78.6 percent of the shares and AMSA 21.4 percent.
The MPRDA entitled holders of mineral rights under previous legislation to convert their old order mining rights within five years of the act coming into operation. If they failed to do so the rights expired.
Sishen converted its shares, but AMSA did not.
ICT applied for a prospecting right in respect of AMSA's share and Sishen applied for a mining right in respect of AMSA's expired share.
The minister granted a prospecting right to ICT and declined Sishen's application for mining rights.
Sishen then applied to the High Court in Pretoria to have the decision reviewed, and set aside the granting of the prospecting rights to ICT.
AMSA, which joined as a party, sought a declarator to the effect that Sishen had been granted 100 percent mining rights when it was converting its shares.
The high court found that Sishen had been granted full mining rights and therefore set aside the grant of the prospecting right to ICT.
The State applicants and ICT unsuccessfully appealed against the order in the Supreme Court of Appeal.
The matter was then taken to the Constitutional Court.
The applicants were arguing that the matter raised constitutional issues since it related to the interpretation of legislation.
They argued that the minister's grant of full rights to Sishen was a mistake which could have been corrected in terms of the MPRDA.
Sishen and AMSA argued that the matter did not raise any constitutional issues since it was purely commercial.
They also argued that ICT's appeal was moot as the prospecting right granted to it had lapsed.
The two were asking that the matter be dismissed with costs. - Sapa