The sprawling farce that is the Las Cristinas gold mine sunk to a new low yesterday, as Rusoro, the Russian firm that had been brought in to take over the mine from the Canadian firm that filed for arbitration after it had been brought in to take over from the other Canadian firm that had filed for arbitration after it had been brought in to take over from yet another Canadian firm whose contract had been irregularly terminated after it had been brought in to take over from the Venezuelan firm that hadn’t managed to exploit the mine after it had finagled control of the mine from the widow of the original concession-holder…itself filed for ICSID arbitration.
Though Rusoro’s claim seeks compensation for the loss of assets beyond just Las Cristinas (including some active mines) this is, nonetheless, the third concurrent ICSID arbitration case Venezuela is facing involving Las Cristinas, by my count. That really must be some sort of record, especially when you consider that as far as I can tell, not a single ounce of gold has been commercially produced there yet.
Forty-eight years and nine concessions into the Venezuelan state’s effort to develop Las Cristinas, the only people who’ve figured out how to extract any value out of the mine are the lawyers…
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