A High Court in Accra has quashed the decision by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to revoke the Mining lease of Exton Cubic Group Limited represented by Ibrahim Mahama, brother of former president John Mahama.
The lease was controversially granted on the 29th of December 2016, a few days for the Mahama administration to hand over power to the new government after it had lost the general elections was in connection to prospect in the Nyanahini Bauxite Concession in the Ashanti Region.
Delivering its ruling on a judicial review application filed by Exton Cubic, the court said Mr John Peter Amewu, the sector minister exceeded his powers and that he did not have the powers to determine the legality of mining leases.
The court presided over by Mr Justice Kweku Ackah Boafo said in revoking the mining lease he gave himself the role of adjudicator although he claimed as sector minister to be protecting public interest.
According to the court the sector Minister exceeded his jurisdiction when he authored the revocation letter adding “the minister could not do that by a stroke of a pen.”
He added that, it was only the court which could revoke mining licenses under such circumstances.
The court said it was convinced that the applicant was not given a hearing before the revocation of the Mining lease and that amounted to the breach of the rules of natural justice.
It also overruled a preliminary objection raised by the state that there application had no proper respondents and that jurisdiction of the court was not properly invoked.
Exton Cubic Group Limited had gone to court to reverse the revocation of its license by the sector ministry through a judicial review.
The Ministry in September last year revoked Exton Cubic license on the basis that the multi-million dollar bauxite contract granted by the previous government was invalid.
In his submission, Mr Godfred Yeboa Dame Deputy Attorney General representing the state, said Exton Cubic Group Limited had no right to come before the court since they had no Mineral rights that the court should protect.
According to Mr Dame, the grant of Mineral rights was not just an event of signing a document, adding it was a process that the law required that the participation of the sector Minister and ratification from Ghana’s Parliament.
He said mineral rights were subject to Parliamentary ratification stressing that “the contract that the applicant was referring to showed that he had no rights at all.”
Mr Dame further argued that after Parliamentary ratification the contract ought to be published in the gazette.
According to him the grant of lease to Exton Cubic Group Limited was not in the handing over notes to the Transitional team as required under the Transitional Act.
Mr Dame contended that the mining lease purported to have been offered to Exton Cubic Group was not valid because the necessary procedures were not followed under the law.
The Deputy Attorney General said that the applicant had not demonstrated to the court why the judicial review should be granted and prayed the court to dismiss same because it has no merit and applicant slapped with punitive cost.
Mr Osafo Buabeng, who represented Exton Cubic Group Limited in November, last year, prayed the court to grant the application for judicial review because mining lease properly executed by the state through the Minister could not be revoked by a stroke of a pen, unless due processes have been followed.
According to Mr Buabeng, the revocation of the mining lease by the Minister should have been based on recommendations by the Minerals Commission.
He held that they have various correspondences that showed that the Minerals Commission gave its approval over the project.
The company recently moved heavy-duty machines into the forest near Nyinahin with intent to start exploratory activities, but was stopped by both the district and regional authorities after agitations by the youths in the area.
In the ensuing tussle between the youth and the company over rights of the company‘s Ibrahim Mahama’s right to enter the Nyinahin Forest Reserve, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), issued a statement saying that the company had not obtained the required permit to enable it to mine bauxite in the area.
The state was of the opinion that the instant application violated Article 88(5) of the 1992 Constitution and was to that effect incompetent.
The Attorney General argued that “There was no publication of notice of the pendency of the application for the prospecting licence in the Gazette as required by Section 13(2) and (3) of Act 703 and Regulation 177 of Minerals and Mining Regulations, 2012 (L. I. 2176).”
The A-G also maintained that “Failure by applicant to obtain the relevant environmental permits before the purported grants of mining leases in respect of the areas constituting about 79% of the nation’s known bauxite resources, among other statutory violations, is very serious, having regard to the activity applicant sought to engage in – mining.”
“Pursuant to an application made in April, 2015, the applicant was on 24th December, 2015 initially issued with prospecting licenses under Section 34 of Act 703 for a term of two (2) years in respect of the following areas: Kyekyewere – 56.64 sq.km; Mpasaso – 22.46 sq.km and Kyirayaso – 32.68 sq.km.