Row over US$14m gold

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A LOCAL company, Vasraft Investment (Pvt) Ltd, has petitioned the High Court demanding US$14 million from a Chinese gold mining company, Ming Chang Sino Africa Mining Investments (Pvt) Ltd, after the latter allegedly stole the former’s 324 kilogrammes of gold. Vasraft is also accusing Ning Chang of illegal mining on its concession in breach of the parties’ agreement.

CHARLES LAITON

The company filed the summons on June 4, 2018 through its lawyer Thabani Mpofu. The Chinese firm is yet to file opposing papers. said sometime in 2015 it concluded a joint venture mining agreement with Ming Chang to enable the latter to mine gold at six claims situated in Shurugwi.

The material terms of the agreement, according to Vasraft, were that Ming Chang would provide equipment, funding and personnel for the joint venture operations, while Vasraft was to ensure that its mining claims and all necessary licences are kept current and legitimate.

Vasraft further said it was agreed between the parties that the harvesting of gold would be a joint effort to be carried out at set times in the presence of officials from both sides on a daily basis at 2pm. According to the court papers, the parties commenced operations in August 2015 with the venture yielding an average of 600 grammes of gold per day.

“In November 2015, plaintiff (Vasraft Investment) discovered that in breach of the agreement between the parties, defendant (Ming Chang Sino Africa) who was in charge of the operations was having a second clean up at 0200hrs every day in the absence of the plaintiff’s officials. The second clean up allowed defendant to harvest gold which it would not account for to its joint venture partner,” Vasraft said.

“In light of this fundamental breach and theft, in December 2015 plaintiff terminated the joint venture agreement and instructed defendant to remove its equipment from the mining claims. The instruction was defied for 18 months defendant continued with its exploitation of gold resources at night, this time to the exclusion of the plaintiff.”

Vasraft said that during the 18-month period Ming Chang produced a total of 324kgs of gold valued at US$41 000 per kg which yielded a total of US$13 284 000. However, although Ming Chang Sino Africa is said to have moved from the mining claims at the end of the 18-month period, it nonetheless, “stealthily moved back for a period of one month and harvested 18kgs of gold worth US$738 000 until its operations were eventually brought to a halt by (then) Minister of Mines (Walter Chidhakwa)”.

According to the court papers Ming Chang is represented by Hussein and Ranchhod.

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