Gold miner hails Pilbara Aboriginal link

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VideoFinance News Presenter Meilin Chew looks at the small miner hopefuls on the hunt for gold in WA's Pilbara.

The head of a prospective Pilbara gold explorer has hailed the relationship with traditional owners of the land it is hoping to mine.

Speaking at a Karratha and Districts Chamber of Commerce and Industry business breakfast, Novo Resources chief executive Rob Humphryson said Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation had proved to be a reliable hand in enabling work to take place on its land.

“(NAC) is very keen to see a paradigm shift in the way mining companies and Aboriginal corporation relationships are conducted,” he said.

“As an example, I am not experienced in dealing with Aboriginal corporations.

“On asking (NAC chief executive) Neil Fong, one of the first things he said is ‘can we get some assistance with our heritage unit?’, so we have agreed to fund an archaeologist position for two years.”

The partnership has seem terms of agreement fast-tracked in a little over a month — a process which can otherwise take years — while in return, NAC has been offered shares in the prospective miner.

Mr Fong said working together stood to hold greater benefits for both sides over what had at times been a hostile relationship between Pilbara miners and traditional owner groups.

“It is a nice breath of fresh air given what I have seen in the past in a lot of small companies in particular being fly-by-nighters,” he said.

“Some of them just want to get in there, pillage the land, run off, and see Aboriginal interests as a nuisance.

“A lot of bigger companies have had the view in the past of thinking they are giving Aboriginal people a welfare handout, where in reality they are purchasing an asset in Aboriginal native title rights.”

Mr Fong said the opportunity presented by Novo was a good chance to test out ways to develop business opportunities and streamline processes.

Novo is looking to expand its footprint in the new year to see how far east the conglomerate outcrops.

The company is also investigating the potential to use joint venture partner Artemis Resources’ Radio Hill plant for processing bulk samples.

Mr Humphryson said pinning a time frame on commercial viability was a “million-dollar question” but the company was already looking at boosting its presence in town.

“These types of deposits are notoriously difficult to put a resource around because they are very coarse,” he said.

“We are talking about sponsoring the Cossack Art Prize.”

Mr Humphryson said the company would look at employing a drive-in, drive-out workforce where possible.

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