Gold Mining Australia (GMA) has filed a lawsuit against Australian Gold (AGX) over a dispute over wages and compensation for its staff, claiming the company has failed to pay at least $50 million in wages and allowances.
In a filing to the Federal Court, GMA said it had been owed $38 million by AGX since 2012.
“The Government of Australia owes GMA a refund of $38,878,000 in compensation, including interest, for its unpaid wages and wages of staff,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
“GMA is unable to pay the $38.878 million due it, as a result of its breach of the Employment Contracts Act 2006.”
The company’s lawyer, David Gough, said in the statement that the case was about GMA’s obligation to pay wages and expenses to employees in the mining industry.
“In addition, the company owes a substantial amount of money to other employers,” he said.
GMA chief executive John Boulton told the ABC that the company was “very, very confident” the case would be resolved in the courts.
“This is not a dispute about wages,” he told the program.
“It’s about what GMA should be paying its employees, and that is wages, not bonuses.”
He said the company had “done nothing wrong”.
“We’ve paid our workers a fair wage, and they’re going to get the fair wage they’re entitled to,” Mr Boulson said.
Mr Bouston also denied the company paid $2.5 million in bonuses to employees after the company went into administration in 2016.
He said GMA had paid all employees in 2016 and the year before, and had paid them a total of $1.9 million.
“We are paying everyone who works for us, and we are paying them what they are entitled to, that is what we should do, and what we have done, in relation to our employees,” he added.
The company also said it owed the Australian Government about $13 million over unpaid debts in 2016-17, including $1 million in interest and $853,000 for interest payments.
Mr Gough said the case could be heard by a Federal Court judge.
He described the case as a “political case” about the Labor government’s handling of the state’s mining industry, and said it was about what the Government of the day should be doing.
“You’ve got to remember that the Labor Party in the late 1990s, early 2000s, had an economic policy that was driven by the Greens,” he explained.
“I think that’s what this is about, this is really about who is in the Government, and who is responsible for the business of Australia, and why is it that there are so many mining companies operating in the state of Victoria?”
The case has been sent to the federal Court of Australia.