Panthera Resources plc (LON:PAT), the gold exploration and development company with assets in India and West Africa, has today announced that the High Court of Rajasthan, Jodhpur has granted Stay Order protection over the entire 25km2 Prospecting Licence Application area of the Bhukia Joint Venture.
· The Court has admitted the Writ Petition filed by the Company’s JV partner Metal Mines India Pvt Ltd.
· Stay Order protection has been granted over the entire 25km2, PLA area.
· The Government of Rajasthan has been given 4 weeks to respond to the Writ Petition before subsequent hearings will determine the matter.
Background and Implications:
The Company was recently advised by the Government of Rajasthan that the PLA made on behalf of the Bhukia JV, by its joint venture partner Metal Mines India Pvt Ltd., had been rejected. The notification was in response to an Order issued by the Court dated 22 January 2018, where the Court directed the GoR to take a final decision on the pending PLA, preferably within 3 months from the date of the Order and gave the Bhukia JV liberty to file with fresh cause of action, in case it was aggrieved by the decision of the GoR.
The Company immediately moved to exercise the legal recourse available to it by filing a Writ Petition, before the Court, challenging the order of the GoR, rejecting its main PLA.
At a hearing on 26 September 2018, the Court admitted the Writ Petition, issued notice to the GoR and asked for a response within 4 weeks.
The Court also gave interim protection to the Bhukia JV by ordering the Government to restrain from dealing with the area comprised in the PLA, until further orders. This was the predicted outcome for the Company and it provides excellent protection of Panthera’s rights and allows the Company several good options to advance the permit to its rightful grant.
The Court heard the matter in detail and found the grounds for rejection to be without merit as they questioned the validity of the sanctioned Reconnaissance Permit in favour of the Bhukia JV and the preferential rights accrued in favour of the company after it successfully completed reconnaissance work under the permit. The interim order was passed ex party, at the first effective hearing and reflects the strong case the company has to protect its legal rights and to have the rejection order reversed.
Geoff Stanley, Managing Director of Panthera Resources plc, commented:
“We are very pleased that the Courts of India have again proved to be effective in protecting the Company’s rights to the Bhukia project. This strong protection offers additional paths to resolve the permitting process with the GoR, puts us in a strong negotiating position, and validates our rights. The Bhukia project may represent one of the most significant undeveloped gold and copper deposits currently known, and despite these ongoing delays, we are confident of our rights and believe opportunity to advance such a high-quality project is within reach. I look forward to updating the market as further progress is achieved toward the goal of being able to grow the existing JORC (2012) resource of 1.74 million ounces by drill defining the larger exploration target, which currently stands at over 6.0 million ounces.”