South Africa has upheld its decision to award part of the prospecting rights of the Kumba Iron Ore Sishen mine to a company whose biggest shareholder has been in business with the son of the country’s president.

Mining minister Susan Shabangu said the decision to award 21.4% of the rights to ICT is lawful.

Shabangu said ICT is the only company that issued a prospecting licence application within the terms of the law.

Kumba Iron Ore and Imperial Crown applied for Sishen rights after the previous holder, ArcelorMittal South Africa, missed a deadline to renew them.

The company said it will pursue the court process and challenge against the rights granted to ICT.

ArcelorMittal has agreed to buy ICT after Kumba cancelled its nine-year contract to supply the steelmaker with ore at prices below market rates.