Drugs, Petrol and Rock n’ Roll or Minerals, Infrastructure n’ Financial Despair?

No satisfactory proposal for a revised Mintabie lease renewal has been forthcoming to date for residence in waiting at Mintabie, while APY Lands are in the limelight daily as the drawn out saga of how to get to the minerals on Anangu lands plays out.  Despite much correspondence with State and Federal Government, only standard form letters, if any have been offered to the residents of the Mintabie township.

Executive Board functions have been the agenda of an independent panel set up to review the administration difficulties on the APY Lands.  The continually amended APY Lands Act last adjusted in 2005 is ripe for another set of changes.

Whilst the township of Mintabie remains occupied, a mineral lease previously unknown to the current residents of the town, seems a hindrance to certain of the Anangu in signing off the area to potential mining companies. Petroleum Exploration Lease Application no 138 has been sitting over the Mintabie Township for some years, registered to the “SA Director on Mines” at the PIRSA office while Rodinia Oil in the Officer Basin has been taking shares on the ASX for shale oil. The company has recently undergone a name change to Rodinia Minerals (RM-TSXv) while they explore for other “base metals” like uranium at overseas locations. Although with shares currently sitting at $0.0700 oil shale in remote Australia may not be their best option unless the SA Government can get it’s infrastructure into place quickly with some help from Canberra and Rodinia can find some unlikely shareholders.  Tasman Resources NL also involved in oil shale and gold exploration recently hit 3cents on the ASX.

Rodinia and their recently developed “subsidiary companies” are not the only out of towners looking for access to the area. And while the Mintabie road remains subject to permits, the Stuart Highway which cuts through some distance of the APY Lands, is permit free.  Not to mention the rail line to Darwin travelling daily through APY territory.  

With this knowledge at hand, it is believed that some Anangu brought forward some tired and rehearsed concerns with the opportunity at hand to address the Mintabie land area while the review panel scrutinised squabbling Board members issues. It was not the forum nor was it on the agenda of the review panel to discuss the Mintabie residents lease. 

It would appear usual, that a thorough and conclusive fact finding mission might be appropriately accomplished first.  The attention to unfounded and cruel rumour-mongering by the obliging media – and others, has not helped the situation for the Mintabie residents sitting on albeit light, Texas Gold. The degree of blame the town has received for the failure of the APY Lands administration or failure to cooperate, is not shared by the region.

Mintabie had been expecting to contribute to discussions on the new Country Plan for unincorporated areas but discovered recently that the town did not receive a mention in the new plan. Mintabie has operated on equal footing under the Outback Areas Community Development Trust with other towns in the areas also under the OACDT.  Despite intermittent visits and regular correspondence from OACDT members, information was not divulged to the resident of the opal mining town by those from the “Trust”.

It is now speculated that despite the high stakes in the wealth of mineral opportunities on Aboriginal lands, preceding the current global recession, that the apparent clearing out towns of inconvenience may be put on the backburner until mining company shares recover. 

The South Australian Government is currently suffering a $400 million budget deficit which will wipe out projected surpluses for years to come. However if Canberra comes good, the hope is that the SA Government currently clinging to a thread, can still oversee record spending on regional infrastructure.   On the other hand if unemployment rises and the property market slows, that figure could blow out, which means there is likely to be a return of traditional miners to the opal fields with China already harking back to the South Australian opal miners as has been the trend in years gone by.

South Australians are waiting with interest to see if the Mintabie residents receive even a small amount of the attention that the APY Lands has been given in the form of even one meeting or a visit while the “decision makers” are in the area.  It seems that the placid Mintabie residents or their work force are not holding anything of value to warrant this courtesy.

Reprinted from: Coober Pedy Regional Times