Newcrest Confidentiality Breach Harmless, Judge Rules

Newcrest Mining Ltd., Australia’s largest gold producer, didn’t benefit from a breach of a confidentiality agreement it had with Gold & Copper Resources Pty, a judge ruled in dismissing Gold & Copper’s lawsuit.

Gold & Copper, a closely held Australian exploration company, sued Newcrest last year claiming the Melbourne-based gold miner disclosed in a 2009 application for exploration licenses that it had been negotiating to use Gold & Copper’s form of electro-magnetic survey technology, in violation of the confidentiality agreement the two companies had.

Newcrest, as a result of divulging the information, won renewals for two exploration licenses from the Minerals Division of the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, profited from the breach of confidence and caused Gold & Copper to lose any chance of applying and getting the licenses, the private explorer claimed in the lawsuit.

“Although the statements were made in breach of Newcrest’s obligations under the confidentiality agreement, they were not made in trade or commerce,” New South Wales Justice James Stevenson wrote in his ruling yesterday. “It is probable that Newcrest would have obtained renewal of its exploration licenses in any event.”

Newcrest didn’t profit from the statements and as a result it’s not likely Gold & Copper suffered any loss, Stevenson said.

“Gold & Copper Resources has always maintained that Newcrest has breached the confidentiality agreement,” the company said in a statement today. “We are pleased to have this confirmed.”

Newcrest said it regretted the “oversight” that resulted in a breach of the confidentiality agreement. The miner welcomed the court’s decision and said Gold & Copper’s claim had been rejected with the judge ruling the breach to have been inconsequential.

The case is Gold & Copper Resources Pty v. Newcrest Operations Ltd. 2013/NSWSC281. Supreme Court of New South Wales (Sydney).

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.