June 28, 2019 / 2:09 PM / in 19 days

UPDATE 2-Zambian court lifts order blocking disposal of Vedanta unit assets

(Updates after Vedanta statement)

By Chris Mfula

LUSAKA, June 28 (Reuters) - A Zambian court on Friday lifted an order blocking a provisional liquidator at Vedanta’s Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) business from disposing of assets or making arrangements with creditor until a July 4 hearing.

The decision by the High Court is the latest twist in a dispute between Vedanta and the Zambian government, which says KCM breached the terms of its operating licence.

Vedanta has denied that claim, and has said it will protect its assets in Zambia, Africa’s second-biggest copper producer.

The case has intensified concerns among international miners about resource nationalism in Africa.

Vedanta confirmed that the order to stay the powers of the liquidator had been lifted until the July 4 hearing.

“Vedanta remains committed to resolving the current situation in the best interests of all parties involved. The company reiterates its appeal to the government of Zambia to discuss the matter face-to-face,” the company said.

State-owned Zambian radio reported that lawyers for Zambia’s mining investment arm, which owns a minority stake in KCM, had argued in court that the earlier order was irregular.

Zambia has also locked horns with international miners over tax changes which the miners say will deter investment.

The tax changes are part of a plan for Zambia to keep a greater share of mineral resource profits and tackle a mounting debt burden.

Zambian Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe said on Friday that she was delaying the implementation of a new sales tax - one of the tax changes that will affect miners - from July 1 to Sept. 1. (Reporting by Chris Mfula Writing by Alexander Winning Editing by Jan Harvey and Louise Heavens)

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