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Legal and Ethical Aspects of Negotiations—Duties of Disclosure and the Right to Maintain Confidentiality in Natural Resources Transactions

John E. Moye, Cynthia L. McNeill, Proceedings of 42nd Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1996)

[G]old is a very devilish sort of a thing, believe me, boys. In the first place, it changes your character entirely.4

The year 1991 began as a peaceful and normal year in the Crescent Valley of Nevada. It was not to remain that way. For years, the occupants of the valley included several important mining companies that were exploring and processing mining claims they had staked in the area.

Placer Dome U.S., Inc. (PDUS) was a member of and operated the Cortez Joint Venture with the Cortez Mine and the Gold Acres Mine in the valley.5 Near the Gold Acres Mine, PDUS maintained millsites and a spent heap leach pad to process low grade ore that had been mined and stockpiled.

PDUS' neighbor to the south and east was Gold Fields Mining Company (Gold Fields). The companies were significant competitors in the Crescent Valley and elsewhere. Gold Fields staked unpatented mining claims in the Crescent Valley during 1986, some of which overlapped with the PDUS millsites.6 This produced a dispute among the parties. The respective land managers for PDUS and Gold Fields enlisted surveyors, and Gold Fields reconfigured its property so that there would be only a minimum overlap between the properties. The overlap that remained became the site of the most [1-4] significant discovery ever in the Crescent Valleythe Pipeline Deposit.

Gold Fields called its work i