Tiwi Islands – Northern Territory

Archive for the ‘Mining’ Category

Bruce Maluish-on Pirntubula Board from (at least)2006-09, Matilda Zircon Director

Posted by tiwiccbb on November 21, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Matilda Zircon to double zircon processing capacity at Tiwi Islands

High grade mineral sands developer Matilda Zircon (ASX: MZI) has commissioned a new slurry separation unit to facilitate the doubling of processing capacity to 300 tonnes per hour at its advanced Tiwi Islands Zircon Project, located about 50km north of Darwin.

Matilda Zircon Chairman Mal Randall said the new $500K unit would boost processing plant capacity at the high-value zircon project from its current capacity of 150 tonnes per hour to some 300 tonnes per hour.

“With the doubling of processing capacity, we will also reduce the unit cost of production,” Mr Randall said.

“Tiwi Island is our most advanced project and this investment demonstrates our commitment to restarting production in the near term.

” We plan to start-up again in the first half of 2010 after the coming wet season, with production for the calendar year planned at 45,200 of concentrate.”

The project is the company’s most advanced project, with plans to commence zircon production in 2010.

It has historically produced 46,000 tonnes of high-value zircon concentrate containing 48% zircon and 29% rutile, for export into the Chinese market.

“We have had an increasing number of inquiries recently for off-take of the concentrate which has earned a reputation in that market for its high grade and low impurities,” Mr Randall said.

“The spate of inquiries underpins our confidence in the Tiwi Islands Project going forward.”

Matilda Zircon, which is developing a suite of mineral sands projects in the Northern Territory, Queensland and WA, has an expanding zircon producing operation in Indonesia.

The Company was formed through the combination of the mineral sands projects of Olympia Resources (ASX: OLY), with zircon assets formerly owned by Matilda Minerals which were acquired in 2009.

Bruce Maluish, Director Matilda Zircon – 09






Senator SIEWERT—I am sorry to take you back to the beginning. I just want to work out
the relationship now between Matilda Zircon and the land council. You made some comment
that I missed, and I apologise for that.
Mr Maluish—Part of the transfer of assets included the assignment of the agreements that
Matilda originally had with the land council. Now Matilda Zircon operate under the original
agreements for exploration and mining.
Senator SIEWERT—So all the arrangements that were put in place previously still exist?
Mr Maluish—Yes.
Senator SIEWERT—Thank you for that. Can we go back to the issue around the wharf. You
said that it went into disuse in 2007. Do I interpret what you said correctly that you have had no
feedback on the plans for repair or expansion?
Mr Maluish—We have had none at all. We have no idea. Anecdotally, we have heard rumours. But we have had no official explanation of why it collapsed or any plans to re-establish it.
Senator SIEWERT—Under what conditions did you use it previously? Was there an arrangement with the subsidiary of GSL?
Mr Maluish—Yes. We had a port access agreement with PenSyl, which was a subsidiary of
GSL, and we paid wharf fees through PenSyl. They had a lease agreement with the Tiwi Land
Council. I think Pirntubula are the commercial arm of the Tiwi Land Council.
Senator SIEWERT—You were on Pirntubula at one stage, weren’t you?
Friday, 14 August 2009 Senate ECA 51
Mr Maluish—Briefly, yes…”

(Actually Bruce Maluish was on the mysterious “Pirntubula” company Board, with Tiwi Land Council CEO John Hicks as company secretary,  for at least 3 years, according to easily obtained ASIC documents.  3 years does not constitute “briefly” as Maluish stated, in Federal Parliament during the recent Senate Inquiry – see link http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/senate/commttee/S12232.pdf.



Tuesday, 19 May 2009 Senate ECA 7

Senator CROSSIN—Mr Hicks, can you then explain this to me: Pirntubula is the business arm of the land
council. Is that right?

Mr Hicks—No, it is not.
Senator CROSSIN—How did that come to be established, then?
Mr Hicks—Pirntubula was established at the behest of the of the Northern Territory government in 1986
when they realised that the land council could not engage in commerce and they needed a vehicle to transfer
the assets of pine trees to a Tiwi entity. The distinction between the land council, which is a statutory authority established for the benefit of the land owners, and Pirntubula, which is a trustee company established for the benefit of the landowner’s commercial interests, goes back to 1986. It is not a creature of the land council. The land council has no shares in it. It is wholly owned and structured by the landowners. Yes, the land council does provide suggestions of things to invest in, like the health board, the training board, the marine ranger program, ceremony, culture and some books that the leaders would like to give you before you leave. But all those things are part of their initiative, and the land council has neither the resources nor the legal capacity to be involved in those.
Senator CROSSIN—But there are directors of Pirntubula that are not landholders; in fact they live on the
mainland and they are non-Indigenous. Is that right?
Mr Hicks—There are no shareholders. There are two directors, yes.
Senator CROSSIN—And you are the secretary of that company?
Mr Hicks—Yes, I am.
ECA 8 Senate Tuesday, 19 May 2009
CHAIR—How many directors are there in total?
Mr Hicks—There are now five. In the last week there have been three resignations. The five directors are: Mr Tipungwuti; Mr Kalippa, our chairman; Mathew Wanaemirri; Craig Phillips, of late Great Southern; and Ian Sylvester, who used to be the CEO of Perkins Shipping. Pirntubula has barging interests. He is a chartered accountant also.
CHAIR—Why did three directors resign last week?
Mr Hicks—We accepted their resignations. Bruce Maluish was one of the directors associated with Matilda Minerals, which disappeared. Tony Rokov was an accountant with Great Southern and Bill Headley was a past employee of Great Southern…”


Sands explorer to expand operations on Tiwi Islands

By Fleur Leyden
August 7, 2004

Mineral sands explorer Matilda Minerals has successfully petitioned the Tiwi Land Council to have vetoes on land in the Tiwi Islands partially lifted so it can mine zircon and rutile deposits.

Matilda Minerals is offering 22.5 million shares at 20 � each to raise $4.5 million, with plans to waltz onto the Australian Stock Exchange next month. The offer represents 66.34 per cent of issued capital.

Rutile is the pigment used in white paint, while zircon is used for ceramics. Both are worth about $650 to $750 a tonne.

Matilda Minerals managing director Barry Bolitho said the rapid expansion of the Chinese economy had made a big difference to the zircon market in the past few years.

“Zircon is the one that is in demand, and in supply deficit at the moment because of the very rapid increase in the urbanisation in China and a lot more tiles being used for kitchens and industrial uses,” he said.

Mr Bolitho, the former managing director of Magnetic Minerals, which was swallowed up by mineral sands miner Ticor in 2002, said the company was granted a single exploration licence and had applied for nine more licences covering the north and west coasts of the Tiwi Islands.

He said the Perth company had also reached an agreement with the Tiwi Land Council, representing traditional Aboriginal landowners, to explore and develop mineral sands deposits.

The Tiwi Islands, consisting of Bathurst Island and Melville Island, are 60 kilometres from Darwin.

“Nearly all Bathurst Island and a part of Melville was covered with a veto,” Mr Bolitho said.

“Another group had applied for large tenements up there previously for bauxite exploration and the Tiwi Land Council knocked that back . . . they thought it would change their lifestyle too much,” he said. “When we went to apply for some tenements the veto was still there so we negotiated . . . and asked that part of the veto be lifted so that we could apply for tenements.”

Matilda Minerals, the only Australian company exploring for and developing zircon and rutile deposits, is confident of starting production by the middle of next year following a feasibility study.

Mr Bolitho said the Ann Bay project, on the north-west coast of Tasmania, had been assessed to have a mineral sands inventory of 200,000 tonnes of heavy minerals containing zircon and rutile.

(John Hicks business mates always seem to have the same … how do you say… stench)

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Kiernan: from security guard to larger-than-life mining character

Former Consolidated Minerals boss Michael Kiernan is one of the Australian mining industry’s most colourful figures. That is quite an achievement given the mining sector is not one unfamiliar with larger-than-life characters. In fact, the former security guard appears to be developing a sort of “black widow” reputation in the industry. On Friday, October 9, a small mining company called Australian Zircon was placed in voluntary administration. Kiernan was appointed a director of the company in February this year, but insiders have told Crikey that his influence is considerable.

The voluntary administrator appointed to Australian Zircon is Pitcher Partners who have acted in the past as administrator of other companies with which Kiernan has been involved.

Australian Zircon owns a mine located 150 kilometres from Adelaide. It had in place contracts to sell its product to an Austrian company called DCM. DCM was also a substantial shareholder in Australian Zircon.

That Australian Zircon collapsed in itself is not especially peculiar. The minnow reported a loss of $34 million for the six months ending December 31, 2008, reported operating cash outflows of $17 million and had only $1.2 million in the bank. Last year the company managed to lose $14 million on foreign exchange derivatives by selling US dollars. This was particularly impressive given that its revenue was only about half that amount. Australian Zircon also reported $15 million in “other expenses”, which shareholders may have been forgiven for thinking deserved further explanation.

However, the happenings at Australian Zircon are not without precedent in Kiernan’s business history.

In fact, Kiernan has found himself a director of several companies that experienced difficulties. In June 2008, he was appointed managing director of Monarch Gold. A month later, the company was placed in voluntary administration. The administrator appointed was Pitcher Partners. A year later Monarch was purchased by a company called Stirling Resources Limited. The managing director of Stirling just happened to be Michael Kiernan (Stirling was previously called Crawley Investments and was Kiernan’s family company).

Kiernan was also a director of Matilda Minerals until June 24,  2008. Matilda owned an iron ore mine in the Tiwi Islands as well as a prospect in Cape York and some exploration licences. The company was placed in administration in October 2008. Lo and behold, in May this year, it was announced that Kiernan’s company, Stirling Resources, had purchased Matilda for $4.5 million.

Kiernan has also been involved with other struggling miners Redbank Mines and Olympia Resources. However, Kiernan’s controversial past is most associated with the company he is credited with building, Consolidated Minerals.

Kiernan quit Consolidated Minerals in 2005 after institutional shareholders had the audacity to reject a proposal to hand Kiernan potentially tens of millions of dollars worth of “in-the-money” incentive shares.

A year later, Kiernan displayed a knack for selling shares at the right time. In May 2006, he collected more than $2.6 million from the sale of one million ConsMin shares for an average sale price of $2.66 per share. Shortly after Kiernan had sold his sizable parcel, the company announced a profit downgrade and the shares dropped significantly.

Michael Kiernan was not the only family member who displayed good judgement. Kiernan’s son, Laurence James Kiernan, sold 540,000 shares of Great Western Explorations at 49 cents per share and a further 1.02 million shares at 41 cents per share in 2006 (shortly after Michael had been appointed to the board). A a month later, Great Western’s share price had slumped by 23%.

Kiernan once told the Sydney Mining Club, that “to some I was a star. To others I was just an arsehole”. As the number of companies that  collapse under Kiernan’s watch grows, it would appear that the group of “others” may be expanding at quite a rate.


Kiernan empire continues to bemuse

The empire of mining entrepreneur Michael Kiernan continues to bemuse. The intrigue is furthered given the cornucopia of companies with which Kiernan associates appear to spend more time in administration than US-based airlines.

Kiernan made his reputation at Consolidated Minerals until he departed in acrimonious circumstances in 2005 after institutional shareholders refused to endorse his multimillion grant of options. ConsMin had been a market darling  — its share price skyrocketing under Kiernan’s guidance after the former truck driver recapitalised Valiant Consolidated Limited (which was then under administration) and reopened the Woodie Woodie manganese mine. While his tenure at ConsMin was a success, since his departure Kiernan’s Midas touch appears to have disappeared.

Earlier this year, a company called Territory Resources teetered on the brink of insolvency (its shares were suspended from trading on the ASX for several months). In 2007, Kiernan (who was Territory’s chairman) planned to use the company as a vehicle to regain control of ConsMin (Territory was ultimately outbid for ConsMin, which was later bought by Ukrainian-backed Palmary Enterprises). After its failed bid for ConsMin, Territory encountered a few problems of its own. The company staggered under the burden of a substantial debt, flawed hedge book and a range of losses on investments in other small mining companies. Territory was also hit by the iron ore price slumping from more than $US114/tonne to less than $US50/tonne.

Many of Territory’s losses coincidentally related to investments in companies associated with Kiernan. For example, in 2008 Territory wrote off more than $35 million in loans and investments in Monarch Gold. Territory also lost money on stakes in Matilda Minerals (which was partially owned by Kiernan’s Crawley Resources), India Resources (of which Kiernan was vice-chairman) and Olympia Resources (later acquired by Kiernan and chaired by Mal Randall, another associate of Kiernan). In total, Territory lost about $120 million in 2008 and 2009  — the company relisted last week and is currently valued by the market at about $70 million.

The current chairman of Territory is Andrew Simpson, who would probably know Kiernan pretty well, having been on the boards of Consolidated Minerals, Matilda Minerals, Windimurra Vanadium and India Resources with the former ConsMin boss.

As Crikey noted last week Monarch Gold (the company that caused Territory to write off $35 million) was placed in administration in July 2008, soon  after Kiernan had been appointed managing director (he had previously been a director until 2006). In 2009, Monarch was purchased by Kiernan’s Stirling Resources from the administrator. Territory’s 2009 annual report noted that Monarch has repaid $2.9 million to Territory and claimed it would pay the $25.5 million it owed the iron ore miner, less proceeds from the sale of several mining projects.

While Kiernan’s web is confusing, it appears that Territory Resources served as a sort of cashbox for companies associated with Kiernan (specifically Monarch Gold but also India Resources) before almost imploding. Territory was only saved by the generosity of the Noble Group, Kiernan’s long-time backers from the Consolidated Minerals days, which agreed to purchase Territory’s $17.6 million in loans last month.

Another common thread in Kiernan’s follies appears to be an accountant,  Brian Hughes. Hughes is the managing director of Pitcher Partners’ Perth office and served as administrator of Monarch Gold, which was sold to Kiernan earlier this year. Hughes also was the administrator of predecessor of Consolidated Minerals (which was sold to Kiernan in 1998) and Croesus Mining (a gold mining company that was chaired by Kiernan before being placed in administration in 2006 and that  sold the Davyhurst gold mine to Monarch, another Kiernan company).


Posted in Abetz, Blogroll, buffer, Christine Milne, environment, Global initiative on Forests and Climate, Great Southern, Howard, Indigenous, Landclearing, Mining, Northern Territory, Rudd, Tiwi Islands, Tiwi Red, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »