Claiming that operators salted samples of ore shipped to the Goldstrike mine in Nevada, Barrick Gold (ABX-T, ABX-N) has filed suit against Au Mining, former leasehold operator of the Golden Wonder gold mine in Hinsdale Cty., Colo.
The allegations — which have not yet been heard in court — say that Au Mining delivered material to Goldstrike’s plant for processing, claiming the material averaged 28 oz. per ton (960 grams per tonne). Barrick said the actual content was “very substantially less.”
Caught in the crossfire is Washington-based junior LKA International (LKAI-O), which had leased the Golden Wonder to Au Mining in 1997. Au Mining shut down operations in 2006 and the two companies are in legal proceedings over the terms of a 2003 lease. LKA claims that Au Mining interfered with a planned joint venture with Cambior, now part of Iamgold (IMG-T, IAG-X, IAG-A), while Au Mining claims it was induced to sign the 2003 lease agreement under false pretences.
LKA, which disclosed the existence of the Barrick lawsuit, has asked Barrick for further information on the matter.
Golden Wonder, discovered in the late 19th century, is an epithermal gold deposit with a history of “bonanza” grades. LKA says that during a period in the 1980s when LKA was test-mining the property, development ore averaged 0.96 oz. per ton (32.9 grams per tonne), and average grades of the material shipped by Au Mining to Barrick was 16.2 oz. per ton (555 grams per tonne).