A small group of 25 persons picketed the Marathon Resources AGM in Adelaide on Friday November 28.
The small numbers were actually quite heartening given that it was a working day, and that only half that number had attended our picket of the uranium conference held in Adelaide earlier in the year.
Besides bloggers like myself and Bill Doyle (http://unknownsa.blogspot.com/ ), there were representatives of the Friends of the Earth, the Wilderness Society, the Communist Party and the Greens. Greens MP Mark Parnell brought along his own amplification system and made a speech calling for Marathon to be denied mining rights in Arkaroola.
Marathon shows no signs of admitting defeat. It has recently appointed two new Directors, one with responsibility for trying to win further support from the Adnyamathanha Aboriginal community, who are the traditional owners of the area that includes Arkaroola; the other is a former employee of multinational giant GHD with expertise in water and energy management.
Dr Dan Tyson has been recruited because of his recent experience in negotiating “mutually beneficial outcomes for both mining companies and indigenous groups arising from major resource developments”.
Amy Tucker comes from GHD “where her role included work as the technical editor of a desalination pre-feasibility study report for BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam Expansion”. Marathon's water needs if Mt Gee goes ahead will be enormous, and it will presumably be Tucker's job to provide the spin for yet further waste and pollution of our nation's most valuable and needed resource.
Would it be too cynical to suggest that Chris Schacht and Mike Rann have a “gentleman’s agreement” to the effect that once the clean-up of illegally dumped wastes is concluded, Marathon will have its exploration licence restored with “close monitoring” by PIRSA and the EPA to assuage public concern about further despoliation?
If Marathon is sitting on such an undisclosed understanding, it would help explain its continual financial commitment to the project at a time when its capital flow from all operations is absolutely minimal.
Marathon Chairman Peter Williams was quite upbeat in his address to shareholders but once again was referring mainly to inferred – not proven – grades of uranium ore at Mt Gee. The red areas in their power point presentation don’t show the drill holes/pinholes, so they are guessing, but they reckon they have the motherlode for the Beverly uranium mine, that’s why they are excited.
That’s why Reg Sprigg sat on it, and some other deposits too. He gave it maximum protection from mining by declaring a sanctuary and reintroducing the yellow-footed rock wallaby. The problem was then and is now – that it never should have been a private sanctuary. It should always have been returned to the ownership of the indigenous custodians to manage as a national park.
It is interesting that former state Premier Don Dunstan’s old law firm got in on the act through Sam Appleyard who now works for Marathon. They’ve known all along, which is why the Dunstan government didn’t take it on as a sanctuary or park. The big money that supported the Dunstan government wanted the option of development one day. Local journalist Des Ryan wrote a book on Dunstan, It’s Grossly Improper, which reveals how corrupt he was – and was virtually run out of town as a consequence.
We repeat our call for Marathon to be thrown out of Arkaroola once and for all, and our support for Greens MP Mark Parnell’s bill to outlaw any mining in Arkaroola.
And in anticipation of a deal to let Marathon resume its exploration, we call again for the creation of an Independent Commission Against Corruption in South Australia.