MELBOURNE: An Indonesian company is willing to reimburse Australian explorer Intrepid Mines for work it carried out on a huge gold prospect in Indonesia, looking to resolve a bitter dispute over rights to the mine, a lawyer said.
At stake is ownership of the Tujuh Bukit project, considered one of the world’s 10 best undeveloped gold and copper projects, with a potential 30 million ounces of gold, 19 billion pounds of copper and 73 million ounces of silver.
The battle is one of several mine ownership and partnership disputes that have spooked foreign investors in Indonesia. These include a fight involving Churchill Mining Plc, which is suing the Indonesian government for US$2bil in compensation over lost rights to a coal project. Investors were once so bullish on Tujuh Bukit, despite it being in a protected forest where open pit mining is not allowed, that Intrepid’s market value peaked two years ago at more than US$1bil.
The Brisbane-based firm, which will brief unhappy shareholders at its annual meeting today, is now worth just A$147mil (US$150mil) after its workers were forced off the site last July and its partner, PT Indo Multi Niaga (IMN), transferred the mining licence to a new company.
Shares were also sold to new investors, including powerful Indonesian businessmen Edwin Soeryadjaya and Garibaldi Thohir.
”They are breaching their agreement with us,” Tony Wenas, Intrepid’s chief executive in Indonesia, told Reuters.
A lawyer for IMN said the company would be willing to reimburse Intrepid US$78mil, which IMN says the Australian firm spent on work at Tujuh Bukit.
”We are ready to reimburse,” Hendry Muliana Hendrawan from the law firm Adnan Kelana Haryanto & Hermanto told Reuters. – Reuters