Australian mining company Indiana Resources has warned it may, if necessary, resort to attaching Air Tanzania's aircraft to force the Tanzanian government into paying out close to USD100 million in compensation for the loss of a nickel project in that country.

"Tanzania took my asset. I'm quite happy to do the same," Indiana Resources Executive Chairwoman Bronwyn Barnes told The Africa Report. Although the value of Air Tanzania's aircraft would not cover the claim, she is counting on the shock value of high-profile national assets being seized to shame the Tanzanian government into action.

Indiana Resources' longstanding dispute with Tanzania over the expropriation of the Ntaka Hill nickel project is the subject of arbitration before the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investments Disputes (ICSID) in Washington DC, US. The ICSID completed an evidentiary hearing into the dispute in February. Post-hearing submissions were due by April 5.

Asked for comment, Barnes told ch-aviation: "The claimants are awaiting a decision from ICSID on compensation for the expropriation of the Ntaka Hill nickel project. If the arbitral tribunal rules in favour of the claimants and determines that compensation for the loss of the asset is due, then we will seek to recover that amount from Tanzania. If Tanzania fails to make payment of compensation as directed by ICSID, then we will consider seizing assets. This may include planes, although no clear decision has been made about this at the moment. We await the final decision of the arbitral panel," she said.

In an earlier company update, Indiana Resources said it was confident it had presented "a clear and compelling case for the requested compensation of USD96.8 million for the loss of the Ntaka Hill nickel project".

Indiana Resources is responsible for all activities in relation to arbitration as the major shareholder and appointed manager for the claimants, including Nachingwea UK Ltd, Ntaka Nickel Holdings Ltd, and Nachingwea Nickel Ltd.

Meanwhile, Indiana Resources has taken a strategic decision to suspend all exploration, cut costs, and implement capital preservation measures to avoid raising funds which would dilute existing shareholders pending the outcome of the arbitration.

In a statement in February, Barnes said Indiana Resources was "close to receiving an outcome that could provide sufficient funds to advance all exploration activities in South Australia for the foreseeable future and provide a capital return to shareholders to recognise the loss of their investment in Tanzania".

The ICSID has not set a date for a decision, but Barnes hoped it would happen around the third quarter of 2023. "There is a clear and compelling case for compensation. We're very confident of a successful outcome," she told The Africa Report.

Indiana Resources first lodged the claim with ICSID in July 2021 for compensation of USD93.7 million plus interest, which continues to accrue. In October 2022, the company met with a special Tanzanian government negotiation team in Dar es Salaam. The company said a site visit to Ntaka Hill revealed that third parties had developed the site and that a significant amount of the previously identified high-grade nickel sulphide zone had been extracted.

Some 158 states, including Tanzania, have ratified the ICSID Convention. An award issued by an ICSID tribunal is enforceable in any of those 158 member states as if it were a judgment of one of their own courts. Partly because of this, countries often comply voluntarily with the payment terms of such awards.

The case echoes that of Swedish companies EcoDevelopment in Europe AB and EcoEnergy Africa AB, which last year impounded an Air Tanzania A220-300 in the Netherlands over a similar dispute over revoked land rights adjudicated by ICSID. The companies had won a USD165 million award against Tanzania over a revoked land rights claim and, in November, persuaded a Dutch court to uphold the attachment of 5H-TCH (msn 55047) owned by Tanzanian lessor TGF - Tanzania Government Flight. According to ADS-D data, the aircraft remains in Maastricht.