Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Exposed - Marathon’s Major Fault Lines

Marathon dumped more than 10,000 bags of radioactive ore during its violation of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. At 5kgs/bag, that’s more than 50 tonnes of radioactive waste. Where is it? Marathon has admitted a publicly proven record of inadequate management. There must be a full, open and public inquiry into the whereabouts and management of this lethal material.

On 9 May 2007 Marathon itself said.

“To date analytical results have been received for slightly over 5000 samples with (sic) results of another 4000 samples remain outstanding from the drilling program. Ongoing laboratory analyses will be released as soon as practical.” Nothing about what they did with the material.
Source: 090507_3rdDrillUpdateMtGeeCrct.pdf, from Marathon’s own website.

Eleven bags here, now where’s the rest, the other 9,989?

Marathon’s drilling and despoliation of the Heritage listed Mt Gee in the middle of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary occurred both before and after these dates. Rare fluorite crystal deposits, supposed to have been protected by the Heritage listing, were gutted. Untold damage was done to the surrounding area. More than 50 tonnes of ore bearing uranium oxide (yellow cake), previously locked up in deposits many metres underground, was brought to the surface as dust from diamond drilling and dumped next to the famed Ridgetop Tour in the middle of Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary.

The laws we have, state and federal, have not been properly policed, thanks to the incompetence of state and federal officials. It took a tip off, prominently publicised in the Sunday Mail, before they would act. Where are their reports? They must be made public.

One of Marathon’s principal shareholders is in court on corruption charges in Queensland. Why is this company’s interest getting an easy ride down here? Why did the SA Minister open the Marathon offices in July last year, and then delay a decision about mining when he had more than sufficient reason – 10,000 of them, to cancel the license altogether? Stronger laws to ban mining must be passed to protect this area from these environmental vandals, for once and for all, and the laws we do have must be properly policed.

Significant Wilderness, Insignificant and Dangerous Deposit

It is not as though it is a significant deposit, but it is a significant Wilderness area, on the national heritage. Marathon board members, many of whom held large portfolios acquired at favourable rates, are fond of talking up this deposit as “100% owned” and as “one of the most significant”.

Well, they are wrong on both counts. Aboriginal people claim Native Title to the area, an area of deep and continuing spiritual significance. Arkaroola holds the pastoral lease, and works with Aboriginal people on land management, which is more than can be said for Marathon.

Marathon never held the exploration license in the first place. Several other companies did, most of them large, recognised and competent mining companies. Wisely, they walked away when they realised the deposit itself was as nothing compared to other deposits and the significance of the area to its traditional owners.

The license that Marathon uses was latterly acquired by a group called Bonanza Gold (see Bonanza Boys). Marathon took that company over, at a cost, and taking on at least two of their directors. They still owe royalties to IMG, the successor to Goldstream which otherwise walked away as well.

The facts are that this small area has been pincushioned with drill holes many times over the last thirty or forty years – more than 796 of them totalling more than 80 kilometres. The geology is well known.

And, as uranium oxide, it is just not worth it. The site might hold about 00.37% of Australia’s known reserves. Most of Mt Gee’s is low grade in hard rock with a seismically active bottom known to be at boiling point.

There are many, larger, high grade deposits accessible in more stable and less significant areas.

Then why the fuss?

There’s money to be made, but not necessarily in mining the deposit. Marathon never paid a dividend on its 60+ million shares. It probably never will. But, if informed people are clever enough to manipulate the market price, then there’s money to be made.

Marathon’s shares topped $6 less than a year ago. Some Directors held earlier options at 20 cents. Even now, with the low around $1:22, that’s not a bad margin for an option costing 20 cents.

Prices 13 February, 2008

Someone’s making money out of this, as the share charts show. More than 436,000 shares traded when it’s usually less than a quarter of that. To the uninitiated, this might look like a panic, and to some extent it is. But, money can be made if the price is right, and for some few it has been. For many, it’s a right royal rip off.

Marathon’s long term share history makes more interesting reading. Try this site (http://www.tradingroom.com.au/apps/qt/quote.ac?section=chart&code=MTN ) to see the incidence of large trades, then check when and what announcements have been made. Someone’s being suckered, and that someone includes this state government.

Share price graph – heading south

Recently, Marathon discovered that it could not raise $27m on the open market. The market was wary, and that was before drilling was suspended. The question must be asked – did they ever have any real intention of mining, or was it just another way for some clever players to make money, playing the market?

Either way, it makes no difference. This is a sanctuary, and there are those who will protect it even if Miner Mike and our other politicians won’t. Doesn’t matter how hard it is, or how long it takes, this place will be protected. Let’s see the end of this charade. Act now. Ban the mining of Mt Gee.


Annie said...

Latest Aus govt report on resources - www.australianminesatlas.gov.au/info/aimr/uranium.jsp - puts Australian reserves at 1,216,000 tonnes of yellow cake.

Marathon expects to get, maybe, 900 tonnes a year by taking 1,500,000tonnes of radioactive ore out of Mt Gee. Disgraceful.

John said...

Not so fast Annie. Pro-u site http://www.uic.com.au/emine.htm puts Olympic, already expanding, at 2,244,000 tonnes U3O8 all by itself. With Ranger, that makes Marathon's 900 tonnes about 00.37% or less. Just ban it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, where are the samples and where is the enquiry? Where is the transparency and why still no comment from the federal level..a corrupted explorer exposed in this contentious area of mining and no comment from Canberra...Aust's commitment to allow China to suck Australia dry without regard remains...without convictions corruption remains, the stench of Marathon (CITIC and Talbot) is still present in the South Australian outback...some proper probing to be done by the greens and democrats...this needs to be aired on hansard, the media certainly is missing the point.


Anonymous said...

With regard the mob running Marathon it would be helpful if Rann liaised with federal and state criminal agencies before granting permits to these 'cowboys'...

Recent SMH article talks of this mob and their share market wrangling:

"Classic examples include Fortescue Metals chief executive Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest, former Macarthur Coal managing director Ken Talbot and former Consolidated Minerals managing director Michael Kiernan.

All three of these men have spent millions investing in several companies and have often brought a lot of followers along for the ride.

None of the men have sterling reputations. Forrest left many bondholders out to dry in his Anaconda Nickel. Talbot stepped down as the head Macarthur after being investigated by Queensland's Crime and Misconduct Commission for lending money to the state's former health minister, Gordon Nutall. And a few years back, irate institutional shareholders rejected a large pay package for then-ConsMin boss Kiernan, who eventually stepped down.

Still, some investors have managed to make a lot of money backing these men."

It may even be better in the long run for the Rann government to not engage in business with unsavoury characters, they seem to be attracted like bees to the honey pot when it comes to energy and mining.


Anonymous said...

Dear Visitors,

This blog is really nice and informative. We are pleased to know this blog is really helping people. It’s our pleasure to post informative content on this useful blog created by webmaster.

We require 2-3 days positive closing else nifty can crash. Political issues are also hampering market along with inflation and crude oil price. Major support for Nifty is 3650 and Resistance is 4300. Nifty will remain range bound overall trend will be bit bearish in coming days.

For any query feel free to contact us.


+91- 9891655316
+91- 9899056796
+91 -9891890425

Jitender said...


Once again after crash Nifty has started going up. Now we suggest all rises should be used as an opportunity to exit old long positions.
This bull run will continue for few more days. Overall market is in bearish mood as in medium term its just a small rally due to short covering
and result season.

Happy Trading,


KnowYourProfit said...

This blog is novice and informative,it is a pleasure to post a comment on this usefull blog created by a webmaster

Now as such the final stages of the formal completion of nuclear deal has come,so we can expect some positive news effecting the
movement of the INDIAN STOCK MARKET which means stocks coming in power sector will take new direction

Companies which will benefited includes mainly

1.Larsen n Tourbo(LT)
2.Hindustan Construction Co. Ltd(HCC)

and the list had few more names..

Happy Trading

Have Query

Feel free to contact us at



sharegyan said...


Once again after crash Nifty has started going up. Now we suggest all rises should be used as an opportunity to exit old long positions.
This bull run will continue for few more days. Overall market is in bearish mood as in medium term its just a small rally due to short covering
and result season.

Happy Trading,