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  • Argonaut Resources (ARE) has started drilling at its Murdie Project despite claims from an Aboriginal group that it would damage a sacred area
  • The project covers part of Lake Torrens, which is a sacred site to at least four Aboriginal groups but does not have any native title protections
  • The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation launched a legal challenge after Argonaut’s drilling program was approved last year
  • Argonaut intends to drill an initial four or five holes at the Murdie Project, focussing on a residual gravity anomaly known as Smith Dam 1
  • Shares in Argonaut Resources remain steady at 1.4 cents each

Argonaut Resources (ARE) has started drilling at its Murdie Project despite claims from an Aboriginal group that it would damage a sacred area.

Wholly owned by Argonaut through its subsidiary Kelaray, the 1015-square-kilometre project covers part of Lake Torrens — the second largest salt lake in Australia — which is a sacred site to at least four Aboriginal groups but does not have any native title protections.

Last year, South Australia’s Aboriginal Affairs minister, Premier Steven Marshall, green-lit an application from Argonaut to drill for iron oxide copper-gold mineralisation at Murdie.

The clearance was promptly followed by a legal challenge filed in the South Australian Supreme Court by the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation, which sought a review of the approval.

SA Native Title Services (SANTS) also launched a Freedom of Information request for documents relating to the Premier’s decision to approve the project.

“It reveals that the South Australian Heritage Committee said ‘no, don’t mine’, so he’s gone against the advice of his own agency,” said SANTS CEO, Keith Thomas.

“Lake Torrens is one of the most significant cultural sites in South Australia,” he continued.

Jason Bilney, chair of the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation, said he hoped the legal proceedings would set a precedent that drilling was not allowed at Lake Torrens.

“We don’t want any mining to go ahead on Lake Torrens,” he added.

“It’s the same as Juukan Gorge over in Western Australia, they just gave approval and they desecrated over 60,000 years of history.”

Despite the Kokatha, the Adnyamathanha, the Kuyani and the Barngarla people’s unsuccessful campaign for Native Title, the lake contains a sacred cave, a water spring, rock etchings and Aboriginal work areas.

However, Argonaut said this morning that there are no registered Barngarla heritage sites at Lake Torrens, adding that it’s “confident that the State’s authorisation process was robust.”

The company intends to drill an initial four or five holes at the Murdie Project, focussing on a residual gravity anomaly known as Smith Dam 1. The first 1100-metre hole is expected to take roughly 28 days to complete, with drilling to be carried out around the clock.

Shares in Argonaut Resources remain steady at 1.4 cents each as of 1:39pm AEDT.

ARE by the numbers
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