Winnipeg recycler ordered to pay $3.6 million in stolen nickel case

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A Winnipeg metal recycling company has been ordered to pay restitution of $3.6 million, after it bought more than 220,000 kilograms of nickel stolen from a Thompson mining compound.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/03/2021 (631 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A Winnipeg metal recycling company has been ordered to pay restitution of $3.6 million, after it bought more than 220,000 kilograms of nickel stolen from a Thompson mining compound.

A judge last August found Urbanmine Inc. liable for the loss to Vale Canada Ltd., but in a decision released earlier this month, settled the question of just how much the stolen nickel was worth.

Urbanmine had argued it did not know the nickel was stolen when it purchased the property from Schwartz Brothers Construction over a period of one year, ending in May 2013.

Court has heard Schwartz Brothers had a contract with Vale, allowing it open access to the property. Owners Michael Schwartz and Grant Schwartz and several employees have previously pleaded guilty in connection to the thefts, with Michael Schwartz admitting the property was stolen and sold on his instruction.

Urbanmine paid nearly $2.5 million for the stolen nickel, which it then resold to ELG Metals Inc. and EOS Metals for $3.4 million. Queen’s Bench Justice Shauna McCarthy rejected Urbanmine president Mark Chisick’s claim the stolen nickel was of “low quality.”

“Over 480,000 (pounds) of largely newly produced nickel was removed from the property and sold to Urbanmine shortly thereafter,” McCarthy said.

“There is no basis on the evidence before me to conclude that the quality and condition of the nickel had been significantly changed between the time of the thefts and the sale to Urbanmine, or that it was anything less than high quality-grade nickel.”

Urbanmine argued the nickel should be valued at what the company paid for it, while McCarthy ruled the true value was in excess of what ELG Metals and EOS Metals paid for it.

Urbanmine “buy(s) metal for scrap prices and, in this case, were buying from individuals trying to offload stolen nickel,” McCarthy said. “This, in my view, does not represent the price that Vale could have obtained for the nickel on the open market.”

McCarthy’s judgment includes interest from the date Vale filed a lawsuit against Urbanmine in 2013.

“Denying (Vale) full interest from those dates would mean that they have suffered a loss for many years with no compensation for the loss, or benefit of those funds since,” McCarthy said.

“Urbanmine, on the other hand, has had the benefit of its profits on the transactions.”

dean.pritchard@frepress.mb.ca

Dean Pritchard

Dean Pritchard
Courts reporter

Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.

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