(CN) – The 9th Circuit punted a royalties dispute between two gold miners to the Nevada Supreme Court on Wednesday, seeking advice on whether mining agreements fall under a state law against perpetuities.
Bullion Monarch Mining sued Barrick Goldstrike Mines for unpaid mineral royalty payments based on 33-year-old agreement between the firms’ predecessors.
Bullion claimed the contract required Barrick to pay royalties on all its mining claims in the Carlin Trend, the state’s largest gold deposit.
Barrick argued that such an area-of-interest provision violates the Nevada rule against perpetuities.
A federal judge in Reno agreed with Barrick, and Bullion appealed to the 9th Circuit.
The federal appeals court in San Francisco pushed the issue to the Nevada Supreme Court on Wednesday because it could find no controlling precedent on the issue.
If the state court finds that the agreement does violate the law, Bullion seeks to change it.
A three-judge panel certified the following question to the state Supreme Court:
“Under Nevada law, does the Rule Against Perpetuities apply to an area-of-interest provision in a commercial mining agreement?”