Pretoria - A South African court on Friday
granted the mining ministry and politically connected Imperial
Crown Trading (ICT) the leave to appeal in a mineral rights case
against Kumba Iron Ore and ArcelorMittal South Africa
The decision could drag out a complicated case for partial
rights at one of the world's largest iron ore mines. Critics
have said they were given to ICT - a company with no mining
experience but with business links to President Jacob Zuma's son
- in a sweetheart deal.
Police are investigating possible fraud.
Judge Raymond Zondo ruled in December that ICT could not
keep mineral prospecting rights it was awarded by the
On Friday, he allowed for the right to appeal his decision.
Disputes over mineral rights in resource-rich South Africa
have raised investor concerns over transparency and governance
in Africa's biggest economy after some had been awarded to
people linked to high-ranking officials, sometimes over areas
already being mined.
South Africa previously awarded ICT the right to prospect for
minerals at the Sishen mine operated by Kumba, a unit of global
miner Anglo American, in an area over which
ArcelorMittal South Africa previously held a mining right.
ArcelorMittal South Africa had allowed the right to
lapse in 2009, putting in jeopardy a lucrative multi-billion
rand supply deal it had with Kumba that allowed it to source
iron ore at a discount.
The supply dispute between Kumba and ArcelorMittal is being
fought out in a separate arbitration process, which will proceed
once the court case with ICT has been finalised.