High Court settles granite mining dispute

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THE High Court has set aside Mines minister Winston Chitando’s decision to cancel a Mutoko granite mining firm’s registration certificate, following a long-running ownership wrangle with another company.

This comes after the two mining firms approached the court with separate applications, seeking confirmation of ownership of the claim.

In the first application, Quarrying Enterprises (Private) Limited was the applicant while Southern Granites (Private) limited was the respondent. In the second application, Southern Granites was the applicant, while Chitando, Quarrying Enterprises and the provincial mining director were the respondents.

High Court judge Christopher Dube-Banda dealt with both cases at once after a successful application was made to consolidate the matters.

The application emanates from an ownership wrangle between Quarrying Enterprises and Southern Granites over a claim known as Mutuwi in Mashonaland East.

In the first matter, Quarrying Enterprises had launched an urgent chamber application seeking an interdict against Southern Granites from carrying out mining operations at the site.

“The purpose of the interdict sought was to stop Southern Granites from extracting, mining or digging out any granite from the boundaries of the claim, and further from exporting, selling or in any way disposing of the granite whether in its raw form or processed state,” the court noted.

The Mashonaland East acting provincial director was accused of over-pegging on a granite claim belonging to Quarrying Enterprises, in circumstances forming the basis of its application for an interdict against Southern Granites.

However, Southern Granites appealed to Chitando, who dismissed the appeal, forcing the company to also approach the High Court seeking a review and setting aside of the decision to cancel the firm’s certificate of registration.

“The decision of the minister is sought to be reviewed and set aside on the grounds that the minister did not apply his mind to all material facts and considerations placed before him, it is contended that the decision was made in circumstances which violated Southern Granite’s right to its civil rights determined by an independent adjudicating authority established by law and that the decision was vitiated by procedural irregularities, including failure to properly hear Southern Granite before a decision affecting its rights was made,” the judge noted.

Dube-Banda further noted that Quarrying Enterprises’ granite claim had been forfeited along the way, but said the company had failed to prove in its application that the forfeiture was later revoked.

“Quarrying Enterprises has failed to establish a clear right to the mining location in dispute,” Dube-Banda ruled.
In the end, Dube-Banda reviewed Chitando’s decision against Southern Granites and dismissed Quarrying Enterprises’ application for an interdict.

Sternford Moyo appeared on behalf of Southern Granites, while Taona Nyamakura represented Quarrying Enterprises.

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