As I predicted, the dispute over the Côté Gold Project didn’t survive the first day of a much-anticipated hearing before the Ontario Mining and Lands Commissioner scheduled to begin on November 10, 2014.
Rather than face certain disaster, Trelawney Mining (IAMGold) withdrew their application for an easement over land belonging to Sanatana.
Trelawney/IAMGold filed for the easement in April of 2013 maintaining that they needed the ground for construction of a tailings pipeline, a proposed power transmission line and watercourse realignment. According to their application, the Côté Gold Project couldn’t move forward without this ground.
IAMGold paid $608 million for Trelawney in April of 2012. The 8 million ounce Côté Gold Project surrounds the Watershed property of Sanatana Resources. I’ll accept that IAMGold needs the Watershed property but in hindsight it probably would have been a lot cheaper for IAMGold to approach Sanatana and make them a real offer for the property. Especially given the fact that Sanatana has invested over $10 million in exploration.
According to the notice given by the Commissioner on the 10th of November, the parties need to agree on costs or there will be a hearing on or before December 2, 2014 and December 9, 2014. As I suggested in my piece, IAMGold needs to break out the checkbook.
They now get to pay all of Sanatana’s legal fees for the last 18 months. If IAMGold’s position is that they now don’t need the Watershed project, they may well have just opened themselves up to damages. They either need Watershed or the whole thing was fraud.
I suspect someone at Trelawney got cute and thought they could bully a tiny, cash-poor junior by running up the legal fees beyond what they could afford to pay. It was cute but stupid. Before this is over, I think we will hear the sound of a head or two rolling down the isles of PDAC.
IAMGold is in the business of mining gold and at some point it will make sense to put Côté into production. It’s 8 million ounces even if they are low grade. They could save themselves a lot of grief by simply breaking out the checkbook and asking Peter Miles, CEO of Sanatana how many zeros he wants on a check to go away.
I own 50,000 shares of Sanatana bought at a much higher price and Sanatana is an advertiser. I am biased and you should take some responsibility for your own investment decisions.