Kumba becomes the sole owner of Sishen mine

South Africa-based Kumba Iron Ore, a division of Anglo American, has been granted rights to mine the steelmaking material at Sishen mine, the continent’s biggest operation, ending a seven-year dispute.

Kumba Iron Ore had to accept some conditions, including a requirement to keep a supply agreement with ArcelorMittal South Africa, the continent’s biggest steel producer.

Last year, South Africa’s Mines Department awarded Kumba the 21.4% of the mining rights it did not already hold in Sishen, but imposed some conditions the firm disagreed with and so it appealed against them.

The legal process has now been completed, the Pretoria-based company said in a statement Thursday, which means it now owns 100% of Sishen, Kumba’s largest mine.

But the iron ore producer had to accept some conditions, including a requirement to keep a supply agreement with ArcelorMittal South Africa, the continent’s biggest steel producer also known as Amsa.

Kumba’s mining rights at Sishen were at the core of long-dragged legal battles after a permit belonging to Amsa expired and the Anglo American unit ended a deal to provide Amsa with ore at below-market prices. In 2013, both firms reached a new supply deal that could have lapsed if Kumba had lost part of the Sishen right.

Anglo American, in turn, is still debating whether to sell or spin off its majority stake in Kumba Iron Ore Ltd, which is Africa's top producer of the commodity.