Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Marathon in a spin

Uranium explorer and wilderness despoiler Marathon Resources is a bit too clever by half.

On June 10, the company released an upbeat announcement of a resources upgrade for the Mt Gee project.

The announcement claimed that drilling carried out in late 2007 and early 2008 had established “significant improvements in the understanding of the mineralization.” (The state Government suspended their drilling license at the end of February following investigations into the dumping of domestic rubbish and tailings in shallow graves at Mt Gee in violation of their exploration permit).

On the basis of this new information, Marathon upgraded its resource estimate by 11.5 percent.

Actually, Marathon’s resource estimates go up and down faster than a yo-yo on a short string.

A bit of shuffling between “indicated” and “inferred” status can work wonders on a resource estimate’s apparent value. As can a “reinterpretation of geology”.

And an upbeat announcement can deflect attention from less desirable publicity – such as the announcement, on the same day, of an update on the company’s submission of its rectification plan for the damage done to various sites around Mt Gee.

The plan is yet to be approved by the SA government (PIRSA) and the Environmental Protection Authority and there is no indication of cost to Marathon shareholders.

According to today's news, PIRSA and the EPA seem to be in no great hurry to accommodate Marathon.

They have requested a range of information from Marathon Resources before a clean-up of its drilling site in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary can begin.

The Government bodies asked Marathon to supply information about the contractors they will use for the clean-up, to ensure they are independent from the company and that they have permission to drive dump trucks through the sanctuary in South Australia's Flinders Ranges.

The plan does incorporate the engagement of Papari Radiation Consultants “to advise on radiation protection throughout the process,” which presumably involves sifting through 22,800 bags and sixteen 200 litre drums to determine what is radioactive and what is not.

According to PIRSA recommendations, all general waste, including the bags and drums, must be transported to a licensed waste disposal site and appropriately disposed of; where that site is was not specified.

Mineral samples, including those that are radioactive, are to be safely removed from bags and drums and reburied within the same or similar geological and soil formations. It is assumed that this will be at, or around the three sites spoiled by Marathon, although again, this is not specified.
Environmental consultants Parsons Brinkerhoff and Futureye have also been engaged to “commit to a set of policies and principles that are in line with international leading practice guidelines on sustainable exploration and mining.”

Consultants are known to charge like wounded bulls, and using them to respin Marathon’s tattered credibility is going to cost shareholders.

Of course, Marathon is doing a fair bit of its own spinning, claiming that “potential for further mineralization is likely in the NE quadrant of the Mt Gee area but this is yet to be tested with drilling.”

This is a carrot for Premier “Miner” Mike (left) and Resources Minister Holloway to move quickly on lifting the suspension of Marathon’s exploration license. Who among the rest of us would ever want to let these bastards back in to further honeycomb this pristine and fragile wilderness area?

And despite the frequently-stated opposition to Marathon’s past, and proposed, activities in the area by the owners of the Arkaroola Wildlife Sanctuary, Marathon chairman Peter Williams is leaving no piece of radio-active rock unturned in an effort to win over owners, the Sprigg family. On a number of occasions he has let it be known that mining development would be “good” for Arkaroola’s infrastructure, and that Marathon needs to “demonstrate to the owners and the rest of the world that there can be coexistence between mining and eco-tourism.” Rather than fanning the flames of shareholder contempt for “greenies” and yellow-footed rock wallabies, Marathon claims that it “respects the important conservation work of the operators of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary…”

The best thing, however, would be for Marathon to clean up the mess it has made, restoring Mt Gee as near as possible to its original state, and then get the hell out of there.

That is the only respect that they are asked to show!

And as for the kiddies in the shareholder chatrooms, well their patience is running thin too. Recent comments include:


Recently I was evaluating some of the worst company failures and surprise, surprise, MTN is down there with the worst of them.Let me list some of the MTN management landmarks. Failing and Falling!!!!!

1 Decision to announce high prospectivity of Mt Gee knowing all the while that the area had been previously explored thoroughly for uranium and abandoned.

2 Deciding to explore when knowing the obstacles of working in one of the most valuable environmental zones on earth. clearly this strategy was designed to excite and deceive unaware investors

3 Employment of incompetents to run field operations led by an incompetent and deceitful board.

4 Burying uranium waste on site at one of the most sensitive areas within the lease. This is one way to grab the headlines. A reasonable person is entitled to ask "Hello is anybody home!"

5 Ignoring increasing evidence of environmental damage caused by their operations and failing to address issues such as impacts on the rare Short-tailed Grasswren, opposition of the pastoral lease holders, growing public concerns and other management issues caused by their presence.

And now we learn MTN is suing and counter suing.

Yep this is one successful story. Mount Gee is a spectacular Geological Monument but for MTN, it is a monument of failure. It surprises me that they still exist. I apologize if i have overlooked any MTN brilliant decisions.

12/06/08 18:01


oo000oo, what about the Purple Spotted Gudgeon?

can I ask a stupid question - shouldn't the point after point 5 be made available to shareholders in an ASX news release? This will send the price plummeting! Makes you wonder not IF but WHEN this company will fold.

I bet stevenj is happy he got out now.
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12/06/08 18:16


yeah, i am, time money investmemt.
I'm being more cut throat now.
Always said i was a work in progress.
When they get approvals to mine, i'll be back in on the open.
If that doesn't eventuate, other stocks are performing for me in their stead.
If there is a stampede to exit and it falls to 50c, i'll be interested on market phsycology technical bounce, but only for that, and out again.thats my play book for this one.
There has to be light at the end of the tunnel, there has to be a production schedule that can they can be accountable to.

If not, good luck finding your way through the forest at midnight.

Happy hunting.cheers

12/06/08 18:23


This individual has their own agenda!I HATE greenies ... Somehow, they always seem to get up my nose!;)
A Hotcopper Addict


fair enough tibbs,and above posters may have agenda on the green side,but that doesnt change the fact that while MTN are gagged and bound, they aren't going to run the four minute mile for us.

cut em loose, and i'll hand em a drink and wave them on with cheers.


13/06/08 12:29


Hi Tibbs, StevenjI agree to a certain extent on your views, but I feel the greenies are doing an important job that all the rest of us are too busy ignoring. Sure, they get it wrong at times, but if you had seen what miners were able to get away with years ago, you'd have a different view. My husband worked in titanium mines down south from Perth in the seventies; people died due to the quick-profit motive (no workplace safety), and the place was a huge mess; and if you'd seen the carelessness, the environmental damage and the bleeding gaps in the landscape they were allowed to get away with, you would say it's a good thing we have better legislation in place.

This is to a great extent due to people who take a long-term view on this beautiful world (some of them known as 'Greenies'). They have their own ignorant or 'blind' spots, agreed, but I hope I never get so greedy that I want it all.

It is obvious that you don't try to establish a mine in an environmentally sensitive area. I guess it's another one of those factors investors have to be aware of.

Do your research before investing. I did hold MTN, but sold out with a small profit some time ago.

Sorry, I didn't mean to 'preach' - I just believe that everyone has an important role to play for the good of us all.


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