Junior explorer Argonaut Resources has criticised South Australia’s mining and native title regulation, accusing it of wasting the miner’s time and money.
In a statement to the ASX Argonaut said the approval given to its Torrens Joint Venture exploration licence in SA had been overturned.
The decision followed an appeal in SA’s Supreme Court over an area of 6,300 square kilometres claimed as an Aboriginal heritage site.
“In making the judgement to overturn the Minister’s approval, the Supreme Court held that, under the [Aboriginal Heritage Act], the Minister must delegate his/her power if requested to do so by duly identified Traditional Owners,” it said.
Argonaut said the decision effectively provided a mechanism to “veto exploration and mining activities”.
In a statement Argonaut chairman Patrick Elliott said the court’s ruling “has the potential to prevent any development in South Australia on land where Traditional Ownership can be asserted”.
He said the regulation “eliminated intended Ministerial power” and the explorer’s joint venture partners had spent millions of dollars and wasted “many years in an uncertain regulatory environment”.
But the chair of the Andyamathanha Traditional Land Association, Vince Coulthard rejected Argonaut’s claims, and said the court’s decision did not block mining.
“There’s no piece of legislation in Australia that provides Aboriginal people with the veto of mining,” he told the ABC.
Coulthard said Traditional Owners were not opposed to mining, but development had to work in “conjunction with Aboriginal people”.