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By Barbara Lewis
LONDON - A South African high court judge on Friday refused Zambia's state mining company ZCCM leave to appeal a previous ruling halting the sale of Vedanta Resources' majority-owned Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) pending arbitration.
Vedanta has been locked in a dispute with the Zambian government since May, when Lusaka appointed a liquidator to run KCM, which is 20% owned by ZCCM and the rest by Vedanta.
Zambia had accused KCM of breaching the terms of its licence, which Mumbai-listed Vedanta denies.
In July, a South African judge said wind-up proceedings must be immediately withdrawn until a final decision is made following arbitration. Zambia appealed and said it was proceeding with the liquidation.
Judge Leicester Adams said his main reasons for refusing leave to appeal were that ZCCM had raised nothing new and that leave would only be granted when a judge believed it could succeed.
The South African high court is recognised as a court in the context of the International Arbitration Act.
"There are no reasonable prospects of another court coming to different conclusions, be they on aspects of facts or law, to the ones reached by me. The appeal does not, in my judgement, have a reasonable prospect of success," the judge said in his ruling.
Vedanta said it remained committed to engaging with the Zambian government to find an amicable solution.
No-one from the Zambian government could immediately be reached for comment.
(Reporting by Barbara Lewis; Additional reporting by Kumwenda-Mtambo in Johannesburg and Chris Mfula in Lusaka; Editing by David Holmes)