South Australian uranium miner Marathon Resources believes that the State Government’s proposed plan to control mining and exploration in its mineral-rich Northern Flinders Ranges will raise more questions than it answers.
The SA Government last month flagged a plan that will see areas with significance of conservation and tourism excluded from exploration and resource development, while other environmentally and culturally important areas would be managed to “preserve areas of local heritage and scenic beauty.”
In addition, several sites will be zoned to allow “lower-impact exploration” and standard exploration and mining access.
Last month also saw the SA Government reinstate Marathon’s exploration licence after a lengthy suspension caused by the company’s illegal dumping of exploration waste.
Despite the reinstatement, Marathon is not allowed to do “ground-disturbing” exploration until amendments to the SA Mining Act are passed by State Parliament, which won’t be until after the election in March.
According to Marathon chairman Peter Williams, this attempt to maintain balance in the region could prove confusing as mining companies would no longer have certainty that the regulations they were working under were consistent and reliable.
“It is a very interesting business for the state in respect of sovereign risk,” he said at the company’s annual general meeting yesterday in Adelaide.
“We find now that there could be areas of the State that have been previously subjected to conditions that are strict…and now we find that the Government wants to impose some arrangements over the top.”
Williams said potential investors may be scared away by such an unclear system.
“Those people who will invest over the long term need to be fully aware that support is coming from the government, the bureaucracies, and that decisions can be made reliably, and confidently,” he said.