Indigenous trust managing funds from Heathgate Resources under scrutiny

Beverley uranium mine. (Image by Geomartin, Wikimedia Commons).

Australian media are all over a recent court case that involves the revenues derived from Heathgate Resources’ Beverley and Beverley North uranium mines, located in the Frome Basin in South Australia.

Beverley is Australia’s third uranium mine and the country’s only operating in-situ leach mine. 

According to reports by the Sydney Morning Herald, The Advertiser and other outlets, an Indigenous-run trust called Rangelea Holdings Pty Ltd has received, since 2003, nearly $40 million from Heathgate – which is owned by US-based nuclear company General Atomics – and its affiliate Quasar Resources. The funds were to be distributed to all Adnyamathanha people based on their native title rights.

However, the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA) – ​​the official native title holder to the lands – says the community has seen very little of such funds and is demanding that Rangelea open the books to the public. 

But the trust is refusing to do so and it won’t even give in to multiple requests by Peter McQuoid, a special administrator appointed by the federal government regulator, the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations. Instead, Rangelea Holdings mounted a challenge in the courts.

Given this reaction, McQuoid asked the mining companies to stop all payments to Rangelea until such time as Rangelea gave him access to the trust’s financial records. But Rangelea responded by seeking an injunction in the Supreme Court of South Australia to force the mining companies to resume their payments.

Previous to this, the trust rejected an offer for the National Native Title Tribunal to facilitate a mediation between ATLA, Rangelea, the regulator and the administrator.

Press reports suggest that the case is being closely watched by the mining companies operating in Australia as it may have implications for other Indigenous corporations that also receive funds from the industry. 

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