Australian mining company Sundance Resources said on Monday that Cameroon has breached an international court order by handing over its licence to the Mbalam iron ore deposit to a local company amid an ownership dispute.
Sundance has been in dispute with authorities in Cameroon and neighbouring Congo Republic over the fate of the Mbalam-Nabeba project, which straddles the border of the two Central African countries.
Sundance said in Monday’s statement that it had verified documents showing that Cameroon last month awarded the Cameroonian slice of the project, known as the Mbalam licence, to a little-known company called Cameroon Mining.
This, Sundance says, breaches a ruling by the International Chamber of Commerce stating that the licence cannot be awarded to a third party while its dispute with the government rolls on.
Cameroon’s mines ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.
Sundance has yet to begin mining the deposit due to the disputes. It accuses Cameroon’s government of failing to honour an exploitation permit awarded to Sundance subsidiary Cam Iron in 2010.
That dispute was referred to international arbitration in June 2021 after Sundance learned that Cameroon’s government was in talks with Congo Republic to develop the mine with Chinese investors.
Congo Republic revoked Congo Iron’s permit in December 2020 and awarded it to a little-known company. In a claim filed in July, Sundance is seeking $8.8 billion in damages.
(By Edward McAllister; Editing by Louise Heavens)