Marmion backs Cauldron

ANDREW Forrest's Minderoo has expressed disappointment over a decision by Western Australian Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion to proceed Cauldron Energy’s application to explore for uranium on and adjacent to the Minderoo pastoral station in the Pilbara.
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Minderoo Station

Kristie Batten

In February last year, the mining warden recommended refusal of the applications for three licences on the grounds that Cauldron did not have adequate funding at the time of the hearing in December 2013.

Cauldron had less than $A500,000 at the end of the December 2013 quarter.

The ruling was cause for concern throughout the junior exploration sector at the time, given the lack of funding available to small companies.

Cauldron executive chairman Tony Sage today said Marmion’s decision showed support for WA greenfields exploration.

“The decision is not only great news for Cauldron’s investors, but also for all those junior explorers who are struggling in the current environment,” he said.

“It is a win for our industry since the implications of the warden’s decision, had it been upheld, would have thrown junior explorers in WA into disarray.

“This has been a long-running and costly legal dispute which has cost the company much-needed finance on litigation rather than putting valuable shareholder funds into the ground through exploration.”

Cauldron is now in a stronger financial position, with $3 million cash and a further $7.47 million in committed funding due from various investors.

Sage said Cauldron had always been confident the company would have funds in place to conduct exploration on the licenses.

“The company now looks forward to moving the application forward and, in time, commence exploration on these tenements,” he said.

The applications will now be progressed through the determination process.

Forrest's company Minderoo opposes Cauldron's application on environmental grounds.

"Minderoo is disappointed at the minister's decision to allow exploration by Cauldron Energy within the historical and environmentally fragile parts of Minderoo station," a Minderoo spokesperson said.

"As we have continuously stated on the public record, Minderoo supports development as long as it has no negative impact on the environment, and specifically protects the delicate environment of the Ashburton River."

Forrest objected to a separate application to develop a mineral sands mine on part of Minderoo last year, though the warden backed the application.

Shares in Cauldron rose 6% to 17.5c.