Cerro Matoso owes Colombia more than $56M in royalties

Cerro Matoso nickel mine – Image courtesy of South32

BOGOTA, Oct 23 (Reuters) – The Cerro Matoso nickel mine, owned by Australian miner South32, owes more than $56 million in unpaid royalties to Colombia, the country’s comptroller said on Tuesday.

The company, which produced 40,600 tonnes of ferronickel in 2017, applied incorrect discounts to its royalty payments over several multi-year periods, the comptroller said in a statement.

“The mining company Cerro Matoso S.A. owes the Colombian state more than 170 billion pesos for unpaid royalties between 1998 and 2003 and 2007 and 2012,” the comptroller said, adding the calculation was based on information from the national mining agency.

Between the first quarter of 1998 and the fourth quarter of 2003, the company failed to pay some 48.3 billion pesos in royalties because it applied incorrect deductions, the comptroller said.

From the fourth quarter of 2007 until the third quarter of 2012 the company failed to pay 120.7 billion pesos in royalties, the statement added, while a third tranche of unpaid royalties totaled 4.37 billion pesos.

Cerro Matoso said in a statement that the alleged missed royalty payments were for concessions that had already expired.

The company will take all necessary legal action in defense of its interests, the statement said, and examine the impact a possible payment could have on its operations.

($1 = 3,087.58 Colombian pesos)

(By Julia Symmes Cobb and Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Tom Brown)