Anil Agarwal, Group Chairman of Vedanta Resources (India) talks during a meeting at the 2018 Investing in African Mining Indaba at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, on February 5, 2018, in Cape Town. (Photo: RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)

A South African court Tuesday granted Vedanta Resources an order blocking the liquidation of its Zambian-based Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) company amid a growing dispute with the government in Lusaka.

KCM, Zambia’s largest copper mining firm, has been at the centre of a standoff since May between Vedanta Resources, its majority owner, and Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu.

Lungu has vowed to dissolve the firm, accusing KCM of violating its operational licence and not paying all its taxes.

Vedanta has denied the allegations.

In May, a Zambian high court appointed a provisional liquidator to dissolve the company, in which the state-owned ZCCM-IH is a minority shareholder.

But the High Court in Johannesburg ordered a halt to any sell-off of KCM assets.

Vedanta approached the South African High Court because Johannesburg is set to host the arbitration process.

“(ZCCM-IH) is interdicted and refrained from taking any further steps in the furtherance and the prosecution of the winding up proceedings,” ruled judge Leicester Adams.

Lungu has targeted the mining sector to generate tax revenue as Zambia struggles with growing debt, and has told international mining companies to leave the copper-rich country if they opposed government policy.

Zambia is Africa’s second biggest copper-producing country after the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the sector is a major employer.

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