Copper explorer Pegasus Metals has placed trading on hold until Monday as the company attempts to clarify its drilling operations in the Kimberly.
The announcement comes after Australian Mining yesterday reported mines and petroleum minister Norman Moore said that the Horizontal Falls, where Pegasus’ exploration tenement is located, would be protected from mining activity.
The state imposed a 72sq km protection zone around the falls, affording the site more protection then national parks.
Moore said that exploration applications in the area had been voluntarily withdrawn by Pegasus Metals, Koolan Iron Ore and Kimminco "as a show of support for the state's move to protect the falls".
Pegasus non-executive director Michael Fotios admitted the timing of Moore’s announcement yesterday was unexpected, although he was aware it was in the works, the West reported.
Fotios confirmed that the company had voluntarily given up its exploration permit in the area.
“We realise that clearly there are many groups who don’t want to see work around the Horizontal Falls – we haven’t worked around the Horizontal Falls and have no intention to do so.”
The protected zone has been criticised by environmental groups, as it still allows for exploration activity to take place within about 5km of the falls.
Environs Kimberley spokesman Martin Pritchard said whole area should be included in a greater Kimberly marine park, however the move to protect the site was a “great first step”.
Fotios said that it could be years before a mine in the area was built: “We might not find anything – it truly is an exploration area,” he said.
He went on to dismiss environmentalist’s claims that mining activity would dramatically affect tourism, saying any potential operation would be an underground operation and current mines already attract tourists.
“There’s mining about 20km away at Cocktaoo and Koolan Island, which are big open cut iron ore mines … tourism operators fly over those mines as part of their tours, so clearly that seems to be an attraction of some sort,” he said.
Before a halt on trading was announced Pegasus share sat at 17.5 cents, taking a fall of over 10 per cent after the minister’s announcement.