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$200K drill seized in Fiji sparks lawsuit against Burnaby businessman

An Ecuador-based company is suing Vancouver-based mineral exploration company Thunderstruck Resources Ltd., Bonga Xploration Drilling Supplies Ltd., and Bonga's sole director, Lloyd Francis Gale, over a $200,000 drill allegedly stuck in Fiji well after the lease for it had expired.

A Burnaby businessman has been named in a lawsuit over a $200,000 drill leased to his company and then allegedly seized by another company in Fiji for more than three years.

Lloyd Francis Gale is the controlling shareholder and sole director of Bonga Xploration Drilling Supplies Ltd., according to a lawsuit filed B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver Wednesday.

Bonga started leasing a NW 350 Diamond drill and other equipment from Ecuador-based Empire Drilling and Consulting EMdrill S.A. on Aug. 1, 2020, according to the notice of civil claim.

Under the lease, which was to expire on Dec. 25, 2020, Bonga agreed to pay Empire $18,000 a month for the equipment and return it in good repair and working order, according to the claim.

Bonga also agreed to get shipping insurance and pay $200,000 if the drill was lost altogether, the lawsuit says.

Empire later extended the lease to Feb. 28, 2022.

By March 2022, however, the equipment had still not been returned, and Bonga owed Empire $342,000 fees on lease, according to Empire.

That month, Gale told Empire the equipment was being held illegally by another company (Vancouver-based mineral exploration company Thunderstruck Resources Ltd.) that Bonga had been working with in Fiji, according to the lawsuit.

But Empire claims Thunderstruck had cancelled its contract and seized the equipment much earlier, in January 2021, and Gale had lied about it for more than a year.

“On multiple occasions throughout 2021, and into early 2022, Mr. Gale communicated to (Empire) that the equipment was in his or Bonga’s possession, and that it was safe and secure,” states the notice of civil claim.

“Mr. Gale made the representations knowing that they were false or made the representations without belief in their truth, not caring whether they were true or false.”

Empire claims it suffered and continues to suffer damages, including loss of profits, because of Gale’s statements.

To make matters worse, Empire claims Thunderstruck refused to recognize Empire’s ownership of the equipment for more than a year and refused to return it.  

Empire is now suing Gale for “fraudulent” or “negligent” misrepresentation and Bonga for breach of contract.

Empire is suing Thunderstruck for trespassing and wrongfully detaining the equipment, which Empire claims led to loss, including lost profits.

Empire is also asking for general, special, aggravated and punitive damages, as well as a court order compelling Thunderstruck to deliver the equipment to Empire at Thunderstruck’s expense and a declaration that the equipment ought to be returned to Empire.

None of Empire’s allegations has been proven in court.

Gale, Bonga and Thunderstruck have not yet filed responses to Empires lawsuit.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor

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