AQUILA Resources, a subsidiary of China’s Baosteel Group, has been in a licensing dispute with South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) since about 2013. Disputes over access to minerals are not new, and the DMR’s stance on certain things, not least its interpretation of the mining charter, is being tested on many fronts in court. But the case involving Aquila stands out as particularly outrageous. It falls to Mike Halliday to oversee the legal fight which has moved to the Pretoria High Court where Aquila has sought a judicial review. This followed 20 months of enervating negotiations with the DMR which had earlier awarded a prospecting right over part of Aquila’s Gravenhage manganese deposit in the Northern Cape to the government-owned property company Pan African Mineral Development Company (PAMDC). What’s interesting is that the granting of the prospecting right ran roughshod over Aquila’s two-year, R150m exploration programme. More galling still for Aquila is the fact the DMR had already accepted (but not granted) a mining right application over the property. The case is also another example of China’s difficulties doing business in South Africa where a number of companies have sought investment only to be frustrated by government red tape.
LIFE OF MIKE
Halliday served as vice-president of legal services for SXR Uranium One, the company established by Sibanye Gold’s Neal Froneman back in the day. In addition to his role as country head of South Africa for Aquila Resources, Halliday is also a director of African Energy and serves on the board of Asenjo Energy.
- Web Address: www.aquilaresources.com.au