HOUSTON, SEPT. 16 -- T. Boone Pickens Jr. today accused Newmont Mining Corp.'s largest shareholder of trading on insider information in purchasing 1.4 million shares of Newmont two months ago.

Pickens, who heads the Ivanhoe Partners group that has made a $2.94 billion offer for control of Newmont, alleged at a press conference here that Consolidated Gold Fields PLC, a British company that owns 26.2 percent of Newmont, bought stock knowing that Newmont would soon increase its public estimates of its gold holdings and production levels.

Newmont has increased the estimates twice in recent weeks.

Most recently, the company announced last Friday that its gold reserves were 43 percent larger than the company had previously thought. Newmont also said Friday that its annual gold production would increase 50 percent to 913,000 ounces next year and to 1.6 million ounces by 1990.

"Can you imagine {Gold Fields officials} sat in those directors meetings and didn't know that?" Pickens said. "Gold Fields had insider information, and they acted on it."

Officials of Newmont were not available for comment.

A spokesman for Consolidated Gold Fields in London would not comment directly on whether the company had any knowledge of Newmont's new estimates of gold holdings and production levels. Nor would the spokesman say whether any Consolidated Gold Fields officials -- the company has two directors on Newmont's board -- were at any of the meetings where the estimates were discussed.

The spokesman said that Consolidated purchased 1.4 million shares of Newmont stock in mid-June to maintain its 26 percent stake in the company when Newmont issued 5.8 million shares of its stock at $45 apiece.

"The action was purely to maintain a 26 percent interest," said the spokesman. He added that the shares were purchased at the same price at which they were offered to the public.

Newmont has said it does not want to be taken over by Pickens' group, which owns 10 percent of the company, and Gold Fields has expressed its support for Newmont management's position.

Pickens hinted that his allegations about insider trading might become an issue at a hearing Friday in Nevada, where Newmont has filed suit to block the takeover bid by Pickens' investor group, Ivanhoe Partners. Pickens declined to comment further on his charges.

Since Consolidate Gold Fields bought the 1.4 million shares in Newmont in mid-June, Newmont stock has skyrocketed, driven both by Pickens' pursuit and by Newmont's announcements of increases in reserves and production.

Newmont closed today at $99.50 a share, down $2, on 2.6 million shares. Pickens is offering $105 a share, an increase from an earlier $95 offer, and his partnership has indicated it may be willing to go as high as $115 a share.

Some analysts, who initially thought that Newmont's book value was around $100 a share, have said that price might have to be scaled up because of the increased reserve and production estimates.

Pickens made his remarks at a press conference following an appearance before a mergers and acquisition forum sponsored by Arthur Andersen & Co. here. It was his first appearance before the press since he started stalking Newmont -- a New York-based company with interests in gold, coal, metals and petroleum -- several weeks ago.

Although many analysts have speculated that Pickens' takeover attempt for Newmont is designed to fail but yield a large profit -- as have his previous takeover bids for several major oil companies -- he insisted that "this is a serious offer for Newmont."

At the current stock price, Ivanhoe Partners already has made more than $100 million on its investment in Newmont.