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Deep-South says Namibia Ministry misses deadline to defend licence refusal

The Haib copper deposit is in the extreme south of Namibia close to the border with South Africa, which is defined by the course of the Orange River. (Image courtesy of Deep-South Resources.)

The High Court of Namibia has rendered its judgment and set aside the decision of the Minister not to renew Deep-South Resources (TSX-V: DSM) licence for the Haib copper project.

The decision is a win for the Canadian miner in its battle to renew the company’s prospecting licence for the Haib project after the country’s mining and energy ministry missed a deadline to file the permit’s refusal

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Minister Tom Alweendo declined to renew Deep-South’s licence in June 2021 citing the Vancouver-based company’s inability to advance to a prefeasibility stage and complete the proposed drilling program as planned.

Deep-South took the case to Namibia’s High Court, which ruled that no permits could be granted over the same area until further notice.

From April 2017 to April 2021, Deep-South invested more than C$2 million ($1.6m) on the project, including an updated preliminary economic assessment. The miner has also proposed a C$7.1 million feasibility study and C$25.5 million pilot plant.

The company had acquired the remainder of the project in 2017 from Teck Resources, which is one of its major shareholders. 

The updated PEA in December had put Haib’s after-tax NPV at $957 million and IRR at 29.7% using a $3 per pound copper price, envisaging a 24-year mine producing 35,332 tonnes per annum of copper cathodes and 51,080tpa copper sulphate. 

The effect of the latest order is that the Minister must resume the licence renewal application procedure and arrive at a new decision. The court noted that the facts presented by Deep-South subsidiary Haib Minerals should not have been ignored in the evaluation process.

The judgment mentions that the Minister and Mining Commissioner did not consider the large investments carried out by Deep-South to develop a low grade deposit.

The court also stated that the Minister and Mining Commissioner did not take in consideration the fact that the covid 19 pandemic impacted the exploration program. The court also ordered the Ministry to pay the legal costs of Deep-South’ subsidiary Haib Minerals.

“This is a very positive verdict and we are confident to be able to create a new positive working relation with the Minister and the new Mining Commissioner,” Deep-South CEO Pierre Leveille said in the statement. “It is also an important decision for Namibia as it shows that the rule of law prevails in Namibia. Our Board of Directors would like to thank our shareholders for their strong support over all that difficult period.“

The Minister and the Mining Commissioner have the right to appeal the judgement in the Supreme Court of Namibia, Deep South said. If they decide to lodge an appeal, the request shall be filed within 21 court days from the date of the judgement — March 10.

 

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