Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Marathon to push on - Parnell and Evans to push back!

richly-coloured rock of a small waterfall by mount gee - link to my Arkaroola Sanctuary - would U mine it? set on flickr Despite what you may have understood from the media it seems to me that Marathon Resources did not make a stunning new announcement yesterday with regard to either the purported Uranium resource at Mount Gee or their intention to mine it.

Yesterday's Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) release was made because the company is obliged to post promptly when any new information that may affect shareholdings becomes available. The company has obtained the results from their recent drilling program, which was prematurely terminated by the State Government in February as a direct consequence of breaches of their exploration lease (see several posts below). Their conclusion reads as follows: 'The Mount Gee project remains one of the largest undeveloped Uranium deposits in Australia, with excellent exploration potential and good prospects for upgrades/additions to the resource figure.' The resource figure refers to the announcement they had made in September 2007.

In other words, Marathon's recent drilling program tells them they can say they were on the right track with the last announcement, but they can't actually announce any new upgrades (from 'indicated' to the far more solid 'inferred') or additions. We can only speculate what being halted at drill hole 23 out of 50 has meant for the company's ability to sell itself to investors, but it can't have been a welcome development!

And, as any regular reader of this blog would be aware, that the company has never stated that it was going to pack up and go home, even at the height of the embarrassing and damaging revelations about waste-dumping. The planned Pre-Feasibility Study and other non-drilling field-assessment work was always going to be continued with.

But the company needs to return to exploration.

Consider what Marathon's chairman Peter Williams told ABC radio today...

ABC interviewer: And have you had any word on when drilling is likely to resume?

Marathon chairman Peter Williams:
That's up to PIRSA and the company to negotiate a method of dealing with the problem that's been uncovered at Mt Gee ... we're working assiduously with PIRSA to work out all the alternatives and resolve how we're going to deal with the problem. Until such time as that's done there won't be a new declaration of environmental factors prepared and that's what would enable us to continue drilling ... that's some time away yet.

Marathon are indefinitely suspended from drilling in the Arkaroola Sanctuary. For very good reason. The State Govt. has said that they're not going to let them back unless they've consulted key stakeholders, particularly Marg and Doug Sprigg, owners of Arkaroola.

Now, the company can 'consult' Marg and Doug 'til the cows come home - but the Spriggs don't want them back. They never will.

The company can also turn up at various regional forums and be nice and polite and neighbourly to the locals. But the State Government cannot pass this off as sufficient 'consultation' or 'community support' to allow a return to exploration for a company whose activities the Premier himself has described as 'cowboy' - not 'neighbourly'! Not in SA's premier Wilderness Sanctuary.

The other key stakeholders are the people of South Australia, and all Australians who love this wild area. We must make it clear that we do not want to see a return of mineral exploration to Arkaroola, by this company, or any other. As former Liberal Environment Minister Iain Evans said today 'there are some areas in South Australia that are simply too special to mine, I put Arkaroola in that category'. Echoing Greens MLC Mark Parnell's 'Arkaroola is one of the most important nature conservation areas in this State and it is too important to mine.'

New call for Arkaroola mining ban
ABC online news South Australia 02/04/08

There is another call for a ban on mining exploration in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary in South Australia's Flinders Ranges.

Marathon Resources says it is pushing ahead with plans for a uranium mine in the sanctuary, based on positive drilling results.

Liberal Opposition MP Iain Evans says that is another reason to protect an area he says is too special to disturb.

"The community do want areas put aside that are going to be there for the public to enjoy long term and I put Arkaroola in that category," he said.

"I think the high country of Arkaroola, the Mount Gee area, Mount Paynter[sis] area need to be protected."

SA Liberal Senator Nick Minchin is another opponent of mining plans for the area and has argued that the SA Government should never have granted an exploration license over land in the wilderness sanctuary.


No comments:

Post a Comment

thanks for your contribution - bill - i'm genuinely sorry about having to switch on the 'moderation' process but comment spammers have really been cluttering up this journal!