Court rules against Torrens JV, Argonaut shares slump


Esmarie Swanepoel,

Date of publication: 
17 January 2011

PERTH – The Environment, Resource and Development Court of South Australia has ruled that mining would not be allowed at Argonaut’s Torrens joint-venture (JV) project, sending the company’s shares lower on the ASX.

Argonaut’s share price slumped 10% to a low of A$0,125 a share, compared with an opening price of A$0,14 a share on Monday. Its shares were trading at around A$0,135 at the time of writing.

Torrens is a JV between Argonaut and fellow-listed Straits Resources, which was earning a 70% interests in the JV by spending A$7-million.

The companies were exploring for iron-oxide/gold/copper systems in the Stuart Shelf region of South Australia.

The project lies within the Lake Torrens region, which is a significant area to the traditional owners of the land.

Chairperson Patrick Elliott said on Monday that Argonaut was disappointed with the court’s ruling but that it remained committed to its view that the proposed mineral exploration activities of the Torrens JV remained in the interest of the state, while also respecting the heritage of the native title parties concerned.

“In consultation with Straits Resources, we intend to pursue our avenues of appeal at the earliest available opportunity,” Elliott said.

There were currently two independent avenues for appeal, the first of which was convincing the Mineral Resources Development Minister to overrule the determination of the court, within two months.

The second option was applying to the Supreme Court to overturn the judgment. This had to take place within 21 days.

Meanwhile, Elliott reported Argonaut continued to advance its exploration campaign over the company’s broader project portfolio, having recently started drilling at the Alford copper project, also in South Australia.

The company has also defined a number of drill-ready targets at the Ban Bak gold project, in Laos, which were expected to be drilled this month.