Fight over native title mining royalties

In Australian Cultural Exports, Business Resources, Featured Home Page News, South Australia

The dispute over uranium royalties paid to a South Australian native title group will head to court.

The dispute over potentially tens of millions of dollars in mining royalties.

The Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association was placed in “special administration” in March last year by the Registrar of Indigenous Corporation.

The group has become bitterly divided in recent years. A dissenting faction claims that former chief executive Vince Coulthard and his associates have failed to provide clarity, over how much money the organisation receives in royalties, and how that money is spent.

The registrar, Selwyn Button said on Monday that the amount paid by the mining companies over the past decade was estimated to be about $30m.

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from Adelaide now 23.11.21

A dispute over potentially tens of millions of dollars in uranium royalties paid to a South Australian native title group is headed to court, with claims there have been “serious failures” in the management of the money.

The Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association was placed in “special administration” in March last year by the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations. The move was a bid to address what the registrar said were “chronic and severe problems” around record keeping issues relating to meetings, memberships, directorships and spending.

The group, whose native title claim covers the Flinders Ranges, has become bitterly divided in recent years, with a dissenting faction claiming that former chief executive Vince Coulthard and his associates have failed to provide clarity over how much money the organisation receives in royalties, and how that money is spent.

ATLA is paid royalties from uranium producers Heathgate Resources and Quasar Resources, which own the Beverley uranium mine in the northern Flinders Ranges. But the money flows into a trust through a company called Rangelea Holdings, managed by Mr Coulthard and others, which does not fall under the remit of the regulator.

The registrar, Selwyn Button, who placed ATLA in administration, has been seeking access to Rangelea’s books. But Mr Coulthard and Rangelea’s other directors have declined to meet with representatives from Mr Selwyn’s office, and last month the company filed a Supreme Court action seeking to wrest back control of the funds.

Mr Button said on Monday that the amount paid by the mining companies over the past decade was estimated to be about $30m.

ATLA’s administrator had successfully called a halt to royalty payments from the uranium mining companies to Rangelea, which now wants those payments reinstated.

In court documents, Rangelea argues that the legal agreements with Heathgate and Quasar stipulate that the royalties be paid to Rangelea, on behalf of ATLA, “without interference from ATLA, the special administrator or any other person”.

But ATLA argues it is the agent for the Adnyamthanha people as registered native title holders, and Rangelea is not the correct recipient of the funds.

ATLA said in the first quarter of 2021, about $260,000 was paid into the master trust each month by the mining companies, on top of about $4m in 2020.

It also said the request to suspend royalty payments was “necessary and appropriate” in light of Rangelea’s refusal to open up its book.

The Advertiser attempted to contact Mr Coulthard for comment. The matter is scheduled to return to court on December 10.

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