The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has welcomed the decision of the Constitutional Court which on Tuesday, dismissed an application by Vantage Goldfieds for leave to appeal a Supreme Court ruling concerning the acquisition of the Lilly and Barbrook Mines.
This comes after a long legal battle between Arqomanzi and Vantage Goldfields on the acquisition of the Lily and Barbrook Mines in business rescue proceedings.
On Thursday, the Mbombela Magistrate’s Court found the management of Lily Mine, the police and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) all had a role to play in the 2016 collapse that led to the death of three miners who are trapped underground to this day.
A collapse at the Lily Mine near Barberton in February 2016, left three employees trapped in a container some 60m underground.
An inquest into their deaths of Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Nkambule and Solomon Nyirenda got under way in 2021, with judgment handed down on Thursday.
Following these two judgments in two different courts this week, DMRE on Friday said the business rescue practitioners were opposed to the Arqomanzi offer to acquire the mine while favouring the acquisition of Vantage Goldfields Limited (Australia) by Macquarie in 2020.
Vantage and the BRPs stated that this transaction did not require consent from the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy as required under section 11 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA).
The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe also took part in the litigation.
In a statement, DMRE spokesperson, Makhosonke Buthelezi said during the cause of the proceedings, the minister made comprehensive submissions on the contentious acquisition and the requirement of obtaining Ministerial consent to render the mining rights of Makonjwaan Imperial Mining Company (Pty) Ltd and Barbrook Mines (Pty) Ltd operable.
“Both the Mpumalanga High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal found the Minister’s submissions and interpretation of objects of the MPRDA plausible and therefore permanently prohibited Vantage Goldfields (Pty) Ltd and the business rescue practitioners from stating that Ministerial consent was not required,” Buthelezi said.
Buthelezi said while the minister is still studying the judgment and will respond once it has considered the findings, added that the finalisation of these two legal matters are welcomed as they have brought some sense of certainty.
“The conclusion of the protracted litigation has now finally brought legal certainty on the application and interpretation of section 11 of the MPRDA. More importantly, it now allows for the resumption of operations at Lily Mine, which will facilitate the recovery of the loved ones of the families of the miners.
“The department also notes the judgment handed down in the Mbombela Magistrate’s Court on October 19, 2023, in an inquest into the Lily Mine disaster,” Buthelezi added.