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Dear Newmont (NEM) and Fresnillo (FRES.L): Isn’t losing a $100m+ lawsuit a material event these days?

Your humble scribe is slightly bemused that Newmont (NEM) and/or Peñoles/Fresnillo (FRES.L) have yet to make any public mention of the court case its JV in Mexico, Penmont late last week. Isn’t losing a court case that looks like costing at least $100m a material event these days? Maybe I’m behind with the times and they consider that kind of cash loose change. Or maybe they were waiting for the press to get a hold of it before thinking they had to say anything to their English language only “stakeholder community” (mushroom politics and all that). Who knows…all a bit of a mystery to me.
Anyway, here’s how the issue was reported to IKN Weekly subscribers last Sunday.
Last week (15) the representatives of a 77 person strong
landowner group (ejido) ‘El Bajío’ won an important court ruling again the
La Herradura mine owned by
the Penmont JV (Fresnillo/Peñoles 56% and Newmont 44%). The ejido owners filed
their suit in 2009 that said the mining company had illegally occupied
3,025 hectares their
land area, which has always been disputed by Penmont who said that their
actions only affected
300
hectares
of the disputed area and that they had obtained
all permits to use that area.


The ruling last week came after appeal, is immediately
actionable and upheld the argument of the ejido landholders who now have the
legal right to evict Penmont from their property as of this week, as well as
being awarded compensation. That eviction of all Penmont assets and operations
may begin in some symbolic manner this week, but the landholders have already
indicated that they prefer to come to a full financial compensation deal and
not threaten the jobs of the 5,000 or so workforce at
La Herradura than carry out
their legal right of eviction. The bill may be eye-popping too, as in the words
of the legal representative for the El Bajío ejido, the estimate for the damage
already caused to the
3,025
hectares
is around U$100m and that “Today the mining
company is condemned to total eviction and the payment of damages”.

A deal needs to be reached and the likely size means that
it’s one that neither Fresnillo or Newmont will be able to sweep under some
regulatory carpet.

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