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Hololo mine drags Mines Commissioner to court

Lesotho Times

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa. Contact us today: News: [email protected] Advertising: [email protected] Telephone: +266 2231 5356

Moorosi Tsiane

HOLOLO Kimberlite Mine (PTY) LTD has accused the Commissioner of Mines, Pheelo Tjatja, of ruining its relationship with global  financier, Thomson Investments (PTY) LTD, by refusing to renew the company’s prospecting licence.

As a result of the impasse, Hololo Kimberlite Mine has now dragged Mr Tjatja to the High Court asking it to force him to renew their permit.

Mr Tjatja, the Mining Board and Attorney-General Rapelang Motsieloa, are cited as first to third respondents, respectively.

Hololo Kimberlite Mine’s Managing Director, Sekholomi Mohlobuli, says his company petitioned Mr Tjatja in September 2022 for the renewal of the license but to no avail.

He states this in his founding affidavit filed at the High Court last week.

According to the affidavit, Hololo Kimberlite Mine was issued with a two-year prospecting license in February 2020 in terms of Section 22 of the Mines and Minerals Act of 2005.

However, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, which has  severely affected the country since March 2020, Hololo Kimberlite Mine’s operations had also been seriously hamstrung, Mr Mohlobuli states in the court documents.

He further noted that the company duly brought its plight that stretched from 2020 to 2022, which was the lifespan of the licence, to the attention of Mr Tjatja. The mine subsequently applied for the renewal of the prospecting licence to the Mining Board on 28 September 2022, Mr Mohlobuli also notes in his court papers.

But after failing to get a response to their application, Mr Mohlobuli says the diamond mine is now seeking the court’s intervention to save its relationship with Thomson Investments (PTY) LTD.

“The operation of the applicant in accordance with its approved work-programme, was seriously hamstrung by circumstances not of its making, which were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic which brought the whole world to a standstill,” Mr Mohlobuli states in his affidavit.

“The applicants’ circumstances were duly brought to the attention of the First Respondent (Tjatja). Hololo Kimberlite Mine has earnestly and confidently addressed its problems and is ready to embark with zeal on its prospecting project. Even more significantly, the applicant has confirmed the commitment of its financier, Thomson Investments (PTY) LTD, to accord adequate financial resources for its prospecting operations project. On 28 September 2022, the applicant therefore submitted its application for renewal of the prospecting license.”

He also said Mr Tjatja acknowledged receiving their application for renewal of the licence but also then informed the company to submit a police clearance. The mine submitted the police clearance on 17 October 2022, the affidavit further notes.

Mr Mohlobuli said he never heard from the respondents since then until he wrote a reminding letter on 3 March 2023 and a subsequent one on 3 May 2023.

He also said his company’s frustration had been brought about through a letter from their sponsor, who has threatened to pull out because of the licence debacle.   Thomson Investments has since said it could not remain committed to the Hololo Mine without any prospects of operating, he added.

As a result, Hololo Kimberlite wants the court to hear its application on an urgent basis because it stood to suffer irreparable damages if the financier eventually walks away from the project.

The court papers also state that Hololo Kimberlite’s intention to alleviate poverty by creating employment in Lesotho would come to naught.

“I verily state that the threat to applicant’s aspirations and by extension, to the economy of the country, is continuing for so long as the anticipated response is not forthcoming,” Mr Mohlobuli concludes in the affidavit.