VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Mar. 30, 2010 (Marketwire) -- First Quantum Minerals Ltd. ("First Quantum" or the "Company") (TSX:FM)(LSE:FQM) wishes to provide an update on developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo ("RDC") since the commencement of international arbitration on February 1, 2010 with respect to the Kolwezi project dispute by the Company, the IFC (International Finance Corporation) and the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa ("IDC").
On February 22, 2010 Kingamyambo Musonoi Tailings SARL ("KMT") and Congo Mineral Developments Ltd. ("CMD") received a Notice of Hearing Date requested by La Generale des Carrieres et Mines ("GECAMINES") and the Mining Registry ("CAMI") setting February 24, 2010 for the hearing of an appeal to the Court of Appeal of Kinshasa/Gombe (the "Appeal Court"). The appeal was originally filed by KMT and CMD with respect to a judgment of the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Kinshasa/Gombe (the "Local Court") dated 28 October 2009.
According to the written submissions of CAMI and Gecamines, the Appeal Court was asked (translation):
"to confirm the appealed judgment to the extent that it rules that there is no clerical error in Decree no. 04/020 of 15 March 2004 or in the incorporation of KMT Sarl, but that there was rather a formal defect, and that the incorporation of such company also involved a fraud - and in that such judgment, applying the maxim "fraus omnia corrumpit", held that such company "does not legally exist due to such fact"; and
"to order CMD Ltd and KMT Sarl, the appellants under the main appeal and the respondents under the cross-appeals, to pay substantial compensation as follows to both of the submitting parties in respect of the various losses which have been and will be suffered by them ...... the equivalent in Congolese francs of seven billion US dollars to Gecamines and of five billion US dollars to CAMI, as compensation for the losses suffered by each of them and that such enormous losses are caused by the prejudicial conduct of CMD and KMT."
Although neither KMT nor CMD were properly served with the Notice of Hearing Date, nor were the rules of the RDC Code of Civil Procedure adhered to, KMT and CMD nevertheless appeared before the Appeal Court to object to the proceedings and the additional US$12 billion in compensation sought by Gecamines and CAMI.
The Company believes a decision has been made by the Appeal Court in favour of the RDC, CAMI and Gecamines. However, due to the unusual steps taken by Gecamines and CAMI in the manner in which the Notice of Hearing Date was communicated to KMT and CMD, as well as the unsupported claims for compensation and the lack of any evidence submitted by either Gecamines or CAMI, the Company cannot comment further on the appeal and is awaiting official notification of the decision of the Appeal Court.
The Company notes that it has provided prior disclosure on the actions taken by the RDC to effectively cancel the Kolwezi Project on August 24, 2009 and the resulting international arbitration filed by CMD, IFC and IDC on February 1, 2010. The Company also notes that any judgment rendered against KMT and CMD will not otherwise legally impact the Company or any of its other operations.
Subsequently on March 8, 2010, the Company, and its RDC subsidiaries Comisa SPRL and Frontier SPRL, which operate the Lonshi and Frontier copper mines respectively, and also a Zambian subsidiary of the Company, were served notices to appear before the RDC Supreme Court of Justice in a case introduced by Societe de Developpement Industriel et Minier du Congo ("Sodimico") against the RDC. Sodimico is requesting the cancellation of a February 2000 letter from the Minister of Mines, which Sodimico alleges wrongfully withdrew mining titles belonging to Sodimico. These titles are further alleged to have been subsequently granted to Comisa and Frontier. The Company believes there is no legal basis to the Sodimico claims.
In addition, the Company believes a decision has been made on March 12, 2010 by the Commercial Court of Lubumbashi which imposed a fine of approximately US$57 million against Comisa to be paid to Sodimico, which had brought various unsubstantiated claims against Comisa in relation to the wrongful use of proprietary information in its Lonshi mining operations. The Company believes these claims are unfounded and will consider further legal options if and when official notification of the judgment has been provided to Comisa.
The Company is also considering additional available ways of recourse for each of these matters. While the Company regrets the escalation of legal actions brought by RDC state entities against the Company in pursuit of unsubstantiated claims and unclear objectives, the Company remains open to seeking a negotiated solution to the Kolwezi project dispute.
The Company will provide further updates as warranted.
On Behalf of the Board of Directors of First Quantum Minerals Ltd.
G. Clive Newall, President
Listed in Standard and Poor's
Certain statements and information herein, including all statements that are not historical facts, contain forward-looking statements and forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable U.S. and Canadian securities laws. Such forward-looking statements or information include but are not limited to statements or information with respect to future price of copper or gold, estimation of mineral reserves and mineral resources, our exploration and development program, estimated future expenses, exploration and development capital requirements, and our goals and strategies. Often, but not always, forward-looking statements or information can be identified by the use of words such as "plans", "expects" or "does not expect", "is expected", "budget", "scheduled", "estimates", "forecasts", "intends", "anticipates" or "does not anticipate" or "believes" or variations of such words and phrases or statements that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will" be taken, occur or be achieved.
With respect to forward-looking statements and information contained herein, we have made numerous assumptions including among other things, assumptions about the price of copper and gold, anticipated costs and expenditures and our ability to achieve our goals. Although our management believes that the assumptions made and the expectations represented by such statements or information are reasonable, there can be no assurance that a forward-looking statement or information herein will prove to be accurate. Forward-looking statements and information by their nature are based on assumptions and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause our actual results, performance or achievements, or industry results, to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements or information.
See our annual information form and our quarterly and annual management's discussion and analysis for additional information on risks, uncertainties and other factors relating to the forward-looking statements and information. Although we have attempted to identify factors that would cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those disclosed in the forward-looking statements or information, there may be other factors that cause actual results, performances, achievements or events not to be anticipated, estimated or intended. Also, many of the factors are beyond our control. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements or information. We undertake no obligation to reissue or update forward-looking statements or information as a result of new information or events after the date hereof except as may be required by law. All forward-looking statements and information made herein, are qualified by this cautionary statement.