Wigu Hill, Tanzania Dispute – Pursuing Resolution or Compensation
The Wigu Hill Rare Earth Element Project is a light rare earth element discovery made by Montero in Tanzania. The rare earth element deposit occurs in a large carbonite complex and although previously known it had never been systematically mapped, sampled and drilled.
The Wigu Hill Rare Earth Element (“REE”) Project is a globally significant rare earth element discovery. The deposit is located approximately 170 km south west of Dar es Salaam. Montero initiated detailed exploration on the property in 2011 when the project was held under a Prospecting License and in 2014, after consultation with the Mining Commissioner Montero applied for a Retention License over the property which was granted in 2015. During this period the company spent over $11 million on exploration and development.
In 2017, without consultation, the Tanzanian government announced its intention to abolish all Retention Licenses, and in 2018 the Government revoked all Retention Licenses which included Wigu Hill. Despite continued assurances from the Government of Tanzania that it was not expropriating the project, the Government of Tanzania placed projects formerly held by Retention License, including Wigu Hill, out to public tender in December 2019.
In January 2020, Montero served a “Notice of Intent” to the Attorney General of Tanzania of its intention to seek compensation for its losses through international arbitration. Montero is protected against expropriation without compensation under a Bilateral Investment Treaty which was entered into by the Governments of Tanzania and Canada in 2013. The “Notice of Intent” allows for a 180 day period whereby the parties would discuss a resolution, after which formal proceedings can take place. To date no formal communication has been forthcoming from the Government of Tanzania.
Montero has appointed a legal counsel to represent the corporation to act on its behalf against the Government of Tanzania. An Information Memorandum that outlines the Claim and the basis on which Montero believes it is entitled to compensation has been drawn up and distributed to several litigation funding firms who have expressed interest in providing funding to support litigation activities. Montero has advanced preparations to lodge a Claim to Arbitration with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”), part of the World Bank.
The Company is not able to make any comment in relation to the potential quantum of any claim for compensation at this point.
Further information on the Wigu Hill Project, including historical exploration reporting and releases relating to development studies can be found on Sedar www.sedar.com