UPDATE 1-Pretium shares fall as consultant questions gold project

Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:58pm EDT
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(Adds quote from CEO, context on Strathcona.)

Oct 22 (Reuters) - The independent consultant that recently quit Pretium Resources Inc's flagship gold exploration project accused the company of making "erroneous and misleading" claims, the company said in a release on Tuesday.

Pretium shares plunged more than 26 percent in morning trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Strathcona Mineral Services Ltd, the independent consultant best known for its role exposing problems at Bre-X, where investors lost billions after a massive gold find was found to be fake, said before it quit Pretium's "Valley of the Kings" program that there were "no valid gold mineral resources".

Strathcona added that recent press releases from Pretium "about probable mineral reserves and future gold production...over a 22-year mine life are erroneous and misleading."

Pretium's management and another independent consultant on the project, Snowden Mining Industry Consultants, have "significant concerns" with Strathcona's conclusions.

Pretium is processing a 10,000-tonne bulk sample, dubbed the "Valley of the Kings" program, at its Brucejack project in northern British Columbia.

Pretium's Chief Executive Robert Quartermain said the Brucejack project has substantial, visible gold. The question is mainly how best to mine it.

"What we want to do is fully understand for our shareholders the extent (of what) we have there, and the best methodology to apply in order to be able to mine the high-grade mineralization that we've outlined," he said.   Continued...