SA mining industry urges govt to end Arkaroola dispute

The South Australian government and mining company Marathon Resources have been told by mining industry leaders to find a resolution to their $15 million dispute.

The company says it is owed the money it has spent on exploration in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary before the state government reversed a decision allowing it to explore and mine there.

The SA government granted the exploration licence for the region, but then reneged on the promise.

The ban was announced last Friday and Marathon believes the government should reimburse the $15 million it spent on exploring for a uranium deposit it will now be unable to mine and sell.

SA Mineral Resources Development Minister Tom Koutsantonis met with Marathon representatives yesterday to discuss the possibility of reimbursing the company with taxpayer money.

Koutsantonis said that while the state government is not obligated to pay the money, a deal is being considered, Adelaide Now reports.

He said he wants to ensure other potential miners are not deterred from investing in the state.

SA Chamber of Mines and Energy chief executive Jason Kuchel told The Advertiser the government needs to reach a fair decision so confidence in the industry is not lost.

"The fact that they announced without consultation … that’s the sort of thing that can knock confidence around for future explorers quite significantly," he said.

"I think it’s quite important that they can come up with a deal that is satisfactory for the exploration companies concerned.

"If the companies are happy, that will help restore the confidence for other explorers."

Koutsantonis confirmed the Government will negotiate with Marathon in good faith but said it was "far too early to be talking about figures".

"It’s about making sure that the industry knows it’s safe to invest in South Australia," he said.

"Marathon got an exploration licence in Arkaroola. Right or wrong, they had one, and they explored.

"We have now said we are preserving Arkaroola forever.

"That doesn’t mean that we should not be good corporate citizens and look at their expenses."

The Greens have been opposed to the company mining in the region for some time, and MP Mark Parnell has declared the government should not give Marathon any money.

Image: Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary

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