Friday, February 4, 2011

of suspensions, halts, and suspense!

sign on to the TWS cyber-action and grab yourself a 'no mine in arkaroola' sticker at monday's event - see details below

Marathon Resources, the company that was suspended from drilling in early 2008 after it illegally dumped waste in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary - and now wishes to return to active mineral exploration - has requested a trading halt on its shares from the Australian Stock Exchange as of yesterday (ASX)

According to the company's statement to the ASX -

The halt is to allow time for Marathon Resources to confirm the acceptibility of the terms of the renewal of EL4355 offered by the South Australian Government and, if acceptable, implement a capital raising.

Not for the first time, the interested public is left scratching its collective head, and wondering what it all means. They're to be offered a lease. We knew that was coming, sadly. But on what terms?

One person who would really like to know is Marg Sprigg, owner of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. She told ABC news -

It was great concern to think that steps have obviously been taken that we have no knowledge of.

We expected to be involved in the process regarding input into what conditions might be placed on them and it's extremely disappointing to think that after all that's gone the Government has just side-stepped. [see complete item posted below]

Marg had, understandably, wanted to be party to the negotiations in order to understand what the state government were prepared to allow in the conservation area she manages. And yet she was simply ignored; she knows no more about it than you or I do, dear reader!

Do you recall Mineral Resources Minister Paul Holloway telling parliament in September 2008 -

When I made my statement I think I mentioned a number of other conditions that Marathon Resources will have to meet before any further exploration will be permitted in that area. One of the obvious ones is its relationship with the landholders. The view I have expressed to any mineral explorer is that, if they do not have good relations with the landholders, the future of mining within those areas is likely to be bleak. [emphasis mine]

Can we assume, then, that common courtesy and 'good relations' is a rule that applies only to others, and not to the state government?

It's not exactly 'transparency,' is it?

So no-one, apart for the Rann government and the company, knows what the proposed conditions of this lease are, including the crucial conditions for any return to drilling. This despite being targetted on a wild area that is clearly dear to the hearts of so many, as the overwhelming support for its preservation that is expressed each time the issue is raised in any public forum indicates.

The Rann government has promised that the environment of Arkaroola will be strictly protected - um, fine, but this is exactly the same statement they've been making throughout! - and that the company will be faced with a year lease with no 'automatic right' of renewal.

so, what can you do?

If you're as concerned about the prospect of a return to drilling as I am, doubtlessly you're asking yourself 'so, what can I do?'

Several things - firstly, you can add your name and comments to The Wilderness Society's cyber-action regarding Arkaroola - if you haven't done so already - as more than 2600 people have at the time of writing. (the action achieved its original target of 2000 signatures in a little over 24 hours - let's see if we can achieve the revised target of 3000 in a few more!) And you can encourage your friends to join in!

Secondly, you could contact your MP, and Mike Rann's office, to voice your concern, or write to The Advertiser.

Thirdly, you could come along to the Wilderness Society's proposed action on Monday the 7th of February at 10.30 am, on the steps of Parliament House. If you can make it along, please do - and remember; the 'someone else' who'll probably make it along if you don't is actually still you!

Here's what TWS propose -

The Rann Government has given permission for previously disgraced mining company Marathon Resources to return to uranium exploration in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. The Government’s decision was held back and only announced in the week before Christmas.

The community protest on the steps of Parliament House will send a message to the Rann Government that this decision has not gone unnoticed, and protesters will call on the Government to protect Arkaroola instead of allowing Marathon to mine it.

This will be a relaxed, non-confrontational event designed to highlight the issue for those of the public who may not even have realised that a new drilling lease may be in the offing (given the 'interesting' timing of the government's announcement!).

And it will be a great opportunity to contribute, and learn more about other avenues for participating in the campaign; plus a great chance to pick up Arkaroola stickers (see at the top of the post - get yours before nearly everyone else does!) and other campaign materials.

You might even get to meet a Labor Maaaaaate (and will they have a proposal for you?!)

Here's the ABC news report in full.

The manager of Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is angry that conditions have been decided without her input for a resources company to keep exploring the area in the Flinders Ranges.

There has been a trading halt in shares in Marathon Resources while a renewal of its exploration lease is considered.

The company was caught illegally dumping waste in the wilderness area in 2008.

Sanctuary manager Marg Sprigg said she would like to have had some input into the conditions.

"It was great concern to think that steps have obviously been taken that we have no knowledge of," she said.

"We expected to be involved in the process regarding input into what conditions might be placed on them and it's extremely disappointing to think that after all that's gone the Government has just side-stepped." ABC online 4/02/11


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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!