A CREDITOR wants the former operator of the goldfield under Bendigo declared insolvent because of a debt of just over $200,000.
The Bendigo Advertiser has obtained a court document alleging Kralcopic Pty Ltd has failed to pay back $234,308.40 owed to company Gold Miners Australia Pty Ltd.
It comes as Kralcopic fights on multiple fronts to stay solvent, reclaim its mining licences, raise $7 million and keep open Kangaroo Flat's Swan Decline, which is the last major portal under Bendigo.
A loss on any of those fronts could potentially trigger the end of roughly a century-and-a-half of mining within Bendigo's city limits.
The Advertiser has obtained a Gold Miners Australia application to wind the company up under the Corporations Act.
It was lodged with the Federal Court of Australia earlier this year and alleges Kralcopic failed to heed a statutory demand for payment
The document also asks the court to appoint a liquidator and for Kralcopic to foot the bill for its legal costs.
It does not outline the nature of the alleged debts.
The plant, the allure of gold and the deal that fell through
Gold Miners Australia's stake in Bendigo mining operations dates back to at least 2017, when it and Kralcopic's parent company, GBM Gold, cut a deal to process sand at a Kangaroo Flat mining site for gold and sulfides.
Gold Miners Australia agreed to build a "gravity separation wash plant" to process the sands, according to GBM Gold documents issued to the Australian Stock Exchange between 2017 and 2019.
The companies suspected the sands - which had been left by a past mining company - contained as much as 5100 ounces of gold.
But the deal appears to have collapsed in 2019.
That is the year that Victorian mining regulator Earth Resources Regulation revoked Kralcopic's Bendigo mining licences over its concerns the company could not fund future works.
The decision plunged Kralcopic and its parent company into a major crisis that is still before the courts, but the seeds of the problem went back further.
The year before Earth Resources Regulation revoked the licences, GBM Gold had been forced to suspend trade on the ASX over its finance problems.
The company told the ASX, regulators and the media that it had come close to two deals with overseas financiers that would have locked in about $7 million in funds to pay off debts and fund future works.
It was looking at another option as late as December last year.
Gold Miners Australia caught up in mine licence fallout
Earth Resources Regulation's 2019 licencing decision appears to have come at a bad time for Gold Miners Australia.
"Installation and commissioning of the plant ready for full commercial operation was almost complete when the Project was stopped," GBM Gold told the ASX in September, 2019 in the wake of the regulator's decision.
"The Project was expected to take two to three years to complete but has now ceased operation with the loss of eight jobs."
It is unclear whether Gold Miners Australia's allegations of debt are connected with the Kangaroo Flat sands project.
The company's representatives declined to comment for this story, saying the matter was before the courts.
Gold Miners Australia is not the only group pressing GBM Gold and Kralcopic over alleged debts.
Earth Resources Regulations itself is chasing a promised $572,000.
Those funds are to be added to an environmental bond all mining companies operating in Victoria must pay for in case they cannot afford to rehabilitate the sites they work in.
GBM Gold already has $5.9 million sitting in the bond, according to Earth Resources Regulation.
The regulator was chasing that alleged debt in December and on Wednesday executive director Anthony Hurst said the company had missed a January deadline.
"If Kralcopic fails to honour its commitment to complete the rehabilitation required at its sites, Earth Resources Regulation will use the bonds to fund and complete the rehabilitation," he said.
Last December, A GBM Gold spokesperson said the company was in the process of raising $7 million in capital and expected the bond money to be paid in early 2021.
Bendigo miner awaiting ruling on mining rights
GBM Gold is also awaiting a separate court fight which could have major implications for the future of Bendigo mining.
It took the state regulator to court in 2020 to reclaim its mining rights. The Supreme Court of Victoria is yet to publish its ruling on the case.
Kralcopic's failure to win either court case could trigger a series of events that could permanently close the Swan Decline's Kangaroo Flat entrance.
GBM Gold has long suspected the portal could contain undiscovered riches.
A previous mining company dug the 18km long tunnel from Kangaroo Flat under central Bendigo in the 2000s but had invested so much money that the amount of gold they harvested made their commitment unviable.
GBM Gold and its subsidiary Kralcopic took over the licences in 2016, believing that more exploration could make the mine profitable.
The regulator has previously told the Advertiser it would not rule out closing the Swan Decline, though that would depend on the Supreme Court case and community consultation.
GBM Gold was contacted for comment on this story.
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