• Award comes as Venezuela faces mounting default concerns
  • Country has 26 pending cases at World Bank arbitration court

Crystallex International Corp. said it was awarded $1.4 billion from a World Bank arbitration court over Venezuela’s nationalization of an untapped deposit that the Canadian miner has said holds millions of ounces of gold.

The award, issued Monday by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, upheld Crystallex’s claims that Venezuela breached an investment treaty “by failing to accord Crystallex’s investments in Venezuela fair and equitable treatment and by unlawfully expropriating those investments,” the Canadian company said Tuesday in a statement.

“The company looks forward to collecting on the award on behalf of all of its stakeholders,” Crystallex Chief Executive Officer Robert Fung said in the statement.

The ruling comes as companies including Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. fight to collect billions of dollars awarded against Venezuela in cases at the Washington-based ICSID as the South American country seeks to avoid defaulting on its foreign debt amid collapsing oil prices. Exxon said in August that it was evaluating its legal rights for enforcement of a $1.6 billion award for nationalized oil assets in the country. The ICSID website currently lists 26 pending cases against Venezuela.

Las Cristinas

Venezuela’s National Guard seized control of the Las Cristinas mine from Vannessa Ventures in 2001. The rights were transferred to Crystallex in 2002. But in 2011, the government handed the assets to state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA without compensating the Canadian company, according to separate complaint filed last year in Delaware federal court.

Venezuela’s government said on Feb. 24 that it resolved a $740 million arbitration award from the ICSID with Spokane, Washington-based Gold Reserve Inc., which also involved the Las Cristinas deposit, by forming a joint venture with the company in a deal authorities said was worth $5 billion.

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