Vedanta granted court order blocking plan by Zambia to sell KCM

The high court in Johannesburg has granted Vedanta Resources an order blocking the liquidation of its Zambia-based Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) company, amid a growing dispute with the government in Lusaka.

KCM, Zambia's largest copper mining firm, has been at the centre of a standoff since May between Vedanta Resources, its majority owner, and Zambian President Edgar Lungu.

Lungu has vowed to dissolve the firm, accusing KCM of violating its operational licence and not paying all its taxes.

Vedanta has denied the allegations.

In May, a Zambian high court appointed a provisional liquidator to dissolve the company, in which the state-owned ZCCM-IH is a minority shareholder.

But on Tuesday, the high court in Johannesburg ordered a halt to any sell-off of KCM assets. Vedanta approached the court because Johannesburg is set to host the arbitration process.

"[ZCCM-IH] is interdicted and refrained from taking any further steps in the furtherance and the prosecution of the winding up proceedings," ruled judge Leicester Adams.

Lungu has targeted the mining sector to generate tax revenue as Zambia struggles with growing debt, and has told international mining companies to leave the copper-rich country if they were opposed to government policy.

Zambia is Africa's second-biggest copper-producing country after Democratic Republic of Congo, and the sector is a major employer.

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