Zambia threatens to revoke British nickel license

Thursday, 8 May, 2014

In which we learn via the Times of Zambia that the Zambian government is looking at revoking the licence of the Munali Nickel Mine if its new owners fail to make on-site progress by June. The current joint owners are the British firm Consolidated Mining Investment Limited (CMIL) and Jinchuan Group of China. The partners signed a long-term JV agreement to revive operations at the Mine, which has been dormant for two years now, having stopped in response to a fall in base metal prices in 2011.

In another example of a recent trend of African nations tightening up with regard to expectations of the behaviour of foreign extractives companies, Mines, Energy and Water Development Minister Christopher Yaluma explained recently that the Government would not allow the mine to sit idle for a long time “when other investors were interested to take over operations.”

In the most general sense, your correspondents see examples of national governments taking more active roles in the stewardship of national resources as positive developments, as long as the processes by which this is done remain transparent.  How the legal ramifications of this particular case will play out, and the degree to which the government's threat is a serious one, remain to be seen. We'll bring you news as we get it.