Drilling operations suspended

THE South Australian Government has suspended indefinitely the drilling operations by Marathon Resources in Mount Gee at Arkaroola in the wake of a significant breach of the exploration conditions of that licence.

The Government has received the initial findings of an investigation by officers from Primary Industries and Resoruces SA (PIRSA) that has confirmed a breach involving the unauthorised burial of a large number of exploration samples, drilling material and other waste.

PIRSA, in consultation with the Environment Protection Authority, have confirmed that the buried material does not constitute a significant environmental risk to the surrounding area, nor does the material constitute a health risk to visitors or the wildlife at Arkaroola. However, the Government considers it to be a serious breach of their licence.

Marathon Resources have been ordered to safely excavate all the unauthorised buried drill sample material and general waste and return the site to, as close as possible, the original conditions.

The Government says the incident at Mount Gee was a blot on an otherwise rich history of mining exploration in the area that stretches back to 1910 when uranium was first discovered there.

The Commonwealth led exploration in the area in the 1940s and since the mid-1960s a succession of companies have explored through the area including Exoil, CRAE, BHP, WMC, Shell Minerals, Kennecott Anglo-American and Geosurveys before Marathon Resources began actively exploring there in 2002.

The Government acknowledged that the company has co-operated with PIRSA and the EPA during the investigation.

They have also completed their own internal investigation into the incident and reported the findings to PIRSA.

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