LUSAKA (Reuters) - A court hearing between Vedanta, its Konkola Copper Mines business (KCM) and the Zambian government over control of KCM, was adjourned on Friday until June 4, a lawyer said.
Vedanta is fighting the government’s attempt to seize KCM, which is one of the biggest employers in Zambia, Africa’s second largest copper producer.
The case involving KCM has stirred up concerns in the mining industry about rising resource nationalism in Africa, where Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo have been seeking a greater share of mining revenues.
Friday’s court action followed an order earlier in the week to name a Zambian law firm as a liquidator of KCM.
Lawyer for the liquidator Jonas Zimba told reporters on Friday the case had been adjourned because Vedanta had not served documents.
Vedanta’s lawyer, Michael Mundashi, declined to comment.
The Zambian government has said it is not seizing private assets or breaking any laws. It has cited breaches of KCM’s licence to operate, the company’s financial situation and said it was talking to three prospective investors, although it has declined to name them.
Vedanta is the majority shareholder of KCM, while the Zambian state arm ZCCM-IH holds around 20 percent.
Vedanta is seeking to ensure it is part of the KCM liquidation proceedings, which until now had not involved the main shareholder.
In a statement late on Thursday, Vedanta said it would fully defend its legal rights and has “serious concerns about the intentions of the applicants and the procedures that were followed by ZCCM-IH as a representative of the government to obtain a provisional liquidation order”.
Vedanda listed a series of concerns including that the petition for winding up KCM dealt with a “broad range of issues relating to KCM not at all related to the solvency of the business”.
The company also said a number of expatriate employees and contractors had been prevented from leaving the country.
Reporting by Chris Mfula in Lusaka and Barbara Lewis in Johannesburg; Editing by David Goodman and Jane Merriman