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GlobalNewswire | 6 September 2023
Silver Bull secures US$9.5M litigation funding to pursue damages claim against the Mexican government
by Silver Bull Resources, Inc.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Sept. 06, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Silver Bull Resources Inc. (TSX: SVB, OTCQB: SVBL) (“Silver Bull” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that it has secured funding for its international arbitration proceedings against the United Mexican States (“Mexico”) under the Agreement between the United States of America, Mexico, and Canada (the “USMCA”) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”).
- Litigation Funding Agreement (“LFA”) signed with Bench Walk Advisors LLC (“Bench Walk”) to pursue international arbitration claims against Mexico for breaches of its obligations under NAFTA.
- The LFA facility is available for immediate draw down and provides funding to cover legal, tribunal and external expert costs and corporate operating expenses associated with the Company.
- US$9.5 million is provided as a purchase of a contingent entitlement to damages in the event that a damages award is recovered from Mexico.
- Legal counsel for the claim is Boies Schiller Flexner (UK) LLP (“BSF”), an international law firm with extensive experience in international investment arbitration concerning mining and other natural resources, to act on its behalf. The BSF Team will be led by Timothy L. Foden, a noted practitioner in the mining arbitration space.
- The arbitration arises from Mexico’s unlawful expropriation and other unlawful treatment of Silver Bull and its investments resulting from an illegal blockade of Silver Bull’s Sierra Mojada project that began in September 2019 and continues to this day.
Silver Bull’s CEO, Mr. Tim Barry commented, “Whilst it had been Silver Bull’s intention to continue developing the Sierra Mojada Project, an illegal blockade by a small group of local miners trying to extort and force an underserved royalty payment from the Company began in September 2019 and continues to this day. Despite numerous requests to the Mexican Government to uphold the law and end the illegal blockade, the Government failed to act, preventing Silver Bull from accessing the site for over four years and preventing the Company from conducting its lawful business in Mexico. The direct actions and inactions by the Mexican Government has driven away investors from the project and resulted in the expropriation of the Sierra Mojada project.
“The substantial litigation funding secured under the LFA is a testament to the strength of Silver Bull’s claims. The US$9.5 million funding facility is non-dilutive to Silver Bull shareholders and will cover the full legal budget of the claim, expert, and ancillary costs, as well as Silver Bull’s operating expenses. Bench Walk will have a contingent entitlement to damages in the event that damages are awarded.”
Mr. Barry continued, “We note that other companies have successfully enforced their rights through international arbitration and received substantial sums for damages. Recent examples of this include (i) a US$110 million award issued by the World Bank International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”) tribunal in August 2023 to Indiana Resources Ltd. regarding the revocation of its mining license by the Tanzanian Government in 2018, which case was led by our legal counsel Tim Foden from BSF, and (ii) a US$5.8 billion award issued by the World Bank ICSID tribunal to Barrick Gold/Antofagasta regarding Pakistan’s unlawful denial of a mining permit for the Reko Diq copper project.”
BACKGROUND TO THE CLAIM: The arbitration has been initiated under the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States process, which falls under the auspices of the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), to which Mexico is a signatory.
Silver Bull officially notified Mexico on March 2, 2023 of its intention to initiate an arbitration owing to Mexico’s breaches of NAFTA by unlawfully expropriating Silver Bull’s investments without compensation, failing to provide Silver Bull and its investments with fair and equitable treatment or full protection and security, and not upholding NAFTA’s national treatment standard.
Silver Bull held a meeting with Mexican government officials in Mexico City on May 30, 2023, in an attempt to explore amicable settlement options and avoid arbitration. However, the 90-day period for amicable settlement under NAFTA expired on June 2, 2023, without a resolution.
Despite repeated demands and requests for action by the Company, Mexico’s governmental agencies have allowed the unlawful blockade to continue, thereby failing to protect Silver Bull’s investments. Consequently, Silver Bull will seek to recover an amount of approximately US$178 million in damages that it has suffered due to Mexico’s breach of its obligations under NAFTA, which includes sunk costs of approximately US$82.5 million, usually considered minimum damages in such cases.
THE SIERRA MOJADA DEPOSIT: Silver Bull’s only asset is the Sierra Mojada deposit located in Coahuila, Mexico. Sierra Mojada is an open pittable oxide deposit with a NI 43-101 compliant Measured and Indicated “global” Mineral Resource of 70.4 million tonnes grading 3.4% zinc and 38.6 g/t silver for 5.35 billion pounds of contained zinc and 87.4 million ounces of contained silver. Included within the “global” Mineral Resource is a Measured and Indicated “high grade zinc zone” of 13.5 million tonnes with an average grade of 11.2% zinc at a 6% cutoff, for 3.336 billion pounds of contained zinc, and a Measured and Indicated “high grade silver zone” of 15.2 million tonnes with an average grade of 114.9 g/t silver at a 50 g/t cutoff for 56.3 million contained ounces of silver. Mineralization remains open in the east, west, and northerly directions.
For a full summary of the Sierra Mojada resource, please refer to Silver Bull’s news release located at the following link:
On behalf of the Board of Directors
Tim Barry, CPAusIMM
Chief Executive Officer and Director