March 21 Rusoro Mining Ltd, backed by
Russia's Agapov family, said on Thursday it had filed a
statement of claim against the Venezuela state and is seeking
$3.03 billion in compensation over the nationalization of its
gold assets in the South American country.
The claim was filed at the World Bank's International Center
for Settlement of Investment Disputes, or ICSID, under the
provisions of Canada-Venezuela bilateral investment treaty.
The Venezuelan government already faces about 20 cases at
the tribunal, including multibillion-dollar claims by U.S. oil
companies Exxon Mobil Corp and ConocoPhillips.
Late President Hugo Chavez set his sights on the gold
industry after quarreling with Rusoro and other foreign
companies, which complained that limits on exports were hurting
their efforts to develop projects in the South American country.
A new law came in force in 2011 aimed at "overturning the
serious impact of the capitalist mining model" by banning all
exports and giving the Venezuelan state at least 55 percent of
It also fixed the royalty rate for most projects at 13
percent, which foreign miners said would scare away any
investors who were still deciding whether to work in Venezuela.
Vancouver-listed Rusoro was the largest gold miner operating
in Venezuela and had enjoyed good relations with Chavez's
government. It produced nearly 150,000 ounces in Venezuela in
2010, and about 80,000 ounces last year before the new rules
"The filing of the Statement of Claim represents a
significant milestone in the arbitration process and we firmly
believe in our case and the pursuit of fair-value compensation
for the loss of our significant investment in Venezuela," Chief
Executive Andre Agapov said in a statement.