Main Trial in Arbitration on Talc Mining over, Verdict Expected in 1.5 Years

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A nugget of talc (stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, November 16 (TASR) – The decision for the international arbitration between the company EuroGas and Slovakia concerning the withdrawal of the licence for talc mining in Gemerska Poloma (Kosice region) should be made in one or 1.5 years at the latest, Plus 7 Dni weekly writes in its latest issue.

The talc case’s main trial before the World Bank’s international tribunal has already been concluded. The arbitration court is deciding whether Slovakia will pay for illegally withdrawing the licence from the mining company EuroGas, or if it will win the dispute amounting to €2 billion, wrote the weekly.

Plus 7 Dni also gives information about an alleged out-of-court agreement involving €420 million compensation that is allegedly in play, too. According to the Slovak Finance Ministry, the issuing of the arbitration tribunal’s ruling will be the next step within the arbitration proceedings. “The ruling is expected to be issued in one to 1.5 years,” the weekly quotes the Finance Ministry.

Plus 7 Dni also writes about EuroGas’s efforts to cast doubt on the Slovak party’s witnesses at the arbitration proceedings in Paris. It published on its website a video from the Saint Barbora [patroness of miners] celebrations held in 2015 by Eurotalc, a company that mines talc at the moment. The then authorised representative of the company and Slovakia’s witness in the arbitration, Ernst Haidecker, claims in the video that they had been stripped of their mining rights in 2011 and that they had to lay off half of their labour force.

EuroGas chief Wolfgang Rauball claims this attests to the fact that the arbitration tribunal was deceived during the trial. “In line with Slovak legislation, the mining authority should have announced a new tender. In our opinion, the fact that the mining authority has silently and illegally resumed the company’s mining rights is proof of the unlawful and corrupt behaviour of the mining authority based in Banska Stiavnica (Banska Bystrica region). It is solid proof of what we have been asserting for 10 years,” the weekly cites Rauball. Eurotalc officials did not want to comment on the ongoing proceedings.

The revocation of the licence prompted Rauball, on behalf of EuroGas, to launch arbitration proceedings against Slovakia at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). As the petitioner in the arbitration, which was launched in 2014, EuroGas is demanding compensation of $3.2 billion (€2.9 billion) from Slovakia for what it calls a marred investment. It’s expected that a verdict on the arbitration process could be released in 2017.

No appeal against ICSID decisions is possible, although they can be overturned due to serious procedural flaws.

EuroGas began indicating its plans to take legal action against Slovakia over the loss of the talc quarry in 2010. At first, it demanded compensation of €500 million in 2011. One year later a company called EuroGas Inc., registered in the USA, also began claiming compensation. EuroGas asserted that its rights related to a trade agreement between the erstwhile Czechoslovakia and the USA from 1991 had been violated. The Slovak Finance Ministry has denied that any such agreement was broken.