SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Customs authorities in the Dominican Republic have released a Canadian joint venture's detained gold shipments amid an ongoing dispute over how much the company should pay the government to operate one of the world's largest gold mines.
Barrick Gold Corp. said in a statement Monday that the gold and silver from the Pueblo Viejo mine, which had been held five days by customs, was released and shipped out of the country.
The announcement came hours after officials had warned that the shipment valued at nearly US$12 million could be detained longer because the source of the gold and silver had been incorrectly labeled as the United States instead of the Dominican Republic. Earlier, the director of the customs agency said the shipment was held because the company would not allow agents to break the seals and inspect it.
Customs officials are still considering potential penalties against the company despite the release of the shipment, spokesman Abinader Fortunato said Tuesday.
The government has been attempting to persuade Barrick to renegotiate the Pueblo Viejo royalty contract.
The Pueblo Viejo venture is 60 per cent owned by the Barrick Gold of Toronto and 40 per cent by Goldcorp of Vancouver. The companies last year reopened the mine after investing nearly US$4 billion, the largest direct foreign investment ever in the Dominican Republic.
Under the contract, Barrick Pueblo Viejo has estimated it will pay about US$7 billion over the estimated 25-year life of the mine to the government. President Danilo Medina and the congress have said the company should return a greater share of its profits to the country.