US law firm White & Case will represent North Macedonia in the arbitration case launched by British-Ukrainian company Sardich MC against the government in Skopje after the authorities terminated the concession agreement for the Kazandol mining project, local media reported on May 25.
The North Macedonia’s Social Democrat government unilaterally annulled the concession deal with Sardich MC on the exploration of copper, gold and silver in southern Macedonia in March 2018, claiming the concessionaire had breached the agreement. The annulment of the contract also came after environmental concerns about the complex were raised.
Skopje-based Sardich MC is now seeking €350mn in damages suffered following the cancelation, MKD.mk reported. The process was launched at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington.
“White & Case was selected to represent the government as the best applicant in the public call,” MKD reported citing the government's press office.
Copper Investments is the owner of Sardich MC company, reportedly set up with British and Ukrainian capital, to develop the Kazandol mining complex.
Meanwhile, the government said that the Administrative Court in Skopje decided in favour of the government, saying that the termination of the concession contract with Sardich MC was legal.
“The lawsuit launched by Sardich MC was baseless. The reasons for termination of the contract are justified as the concessioner failed to meet contract obligations within two years as of the singing of the contract,” the government said in the statement on May 25, citing the court's decision.
“The government remains on its position that it supports foreing investments in the country and creates a climate for economic prosperity, but exclusively in line with the established legal norms and regulations,” it concluded.
Sardich MC signed a concession deal on the Kazandol project with the previous VMRO-DPMNE government in 2015. However, residents voted against development of the deposit in a referendum in 2017.
The Kazandol site stretches across three municipalities: Valandovo, Bodgdanci and Dojran. Sardich MC launched construction works for the production of copper cathodes at the Kazandol complex in August 2016. Investments of €35mn were planned.
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