Copper Mine Failure Turns To Gold

In a dusty Nevada town, a collision between Old West prospecting and 21st century technology has produced a $137 million fraud verdict.

The showdown at the courthouse in Tonopah pitted Australia's Equatorial Mining Ltd. against Kvaerner ASA, a Norwegian engineering firm.

At issue: Who was to blame for what the plaintiff, Equatorial Mining, called the catastrophic failure of its 1997 plan to purchase and develop a Tonopah copper mine?

After a seven-week trial, a jury of 10 men and women�nearly all of whom had hands-on experience in the mining industry�placed that responsibility squarely with Kvaerner. Equatorial Tonopah Inc. v. Kvaerner US Inc., No. CV 16392 (Nye Co., Nev., Dist. Ct.).

That's believed to be the second-largest jury award ever in the state of Nevada, which is not known for having either liberal juries or progressive laws. The National Law Journal has the story here.