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Court allows AusGold to access land for latest project

Saturday, 12th August, 2017

By Andrew Robertson

The owners of Mount Poole station near Tibooburra have been ordered to allow a Chinese-backed miner back onto its land so it can access a gold mine.

AusGold Mining filed a claim in the NSW Land and Environment Court on July 20 against Mount Poole Pastoral Company citing a dispute over access to the Good Friday gold mine.

The dispute had its first airing in the court on Thursday when a directions hearing was held via a phone hook-up.

Registrar Sarah Froh ordered that AusGold be allowed to travel to and from the mine, via a 10.4km all-weather road it constructed on the property, until a full hearing is held in September.

The issue could be settled before then, however, with AusGold and the station owners agreeing to undertake mediation before the September 28 hearing.

The spat over access to the mine comes after AusGold, the privately-owned company of Sally Zou, bought the tiny alluvial gold mine from Martin Faber in 2015 with plans to greatly expand production via an open pit operation.

Since then the company has spent millions of dollars on improvements at the mine which BDT understands is only weeks away from being able to start production.

Apart from constructing the access road, the company has also sunk two bore wells on the property, which provides water to the mine and are also used by the station to water stock, and a large holding tank.

The NSW Minister for Primary Industries is also a party to the land access dispute because Mount Poole is held under a Western Lands lease.

It’s understood there has been no formal land access arrangement between Mount Poole and AusGold, which recently sacked all of its local team of about 10 workers.

The last local employed by the company was let go at the end of July and its offices at the Trades Hall are now empty.

Work at the mine, which is yet to be commissioned, ground to a halt on December 23 and has remained largely dormant since.

The new mine manager, Scott He, who is based in Adelaide, told the BDT last week that the company was working through some issues but remained committed to Broken Hill. While the company deals with issues around its Good Friday mine, its owner has been busy promoting another mining venture to Australians.

In a full-page advertisement in Friday’s Advertiser newspaper, AusGold claims to have discovered a “considerable deposits of diamonds” this year.

The ad, which features a picture of Ms Zou inset into the image of a sparkling diamond, does not reveal where the deposit is located or its estimated value.

But it says the discovery is South Australia’s gain.

“This is an opportunity for South Australia and South Australians to shine as bright as what we hope to unearth from below the ground.”

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