The story of a midnight pegging showdown between two ASX-listed explorers has played out in the Kalgoorlie Warden’s Court, with Torian Resources refused seven leases in the shadow of the Super Pit it claimed had been pegged in just half a second.
The case dates back to July 8, 2016, when squads from rivals Torian and MacPhersons Resources inspected a set of prospecting leases held by struggling junior MRG Metals that were due to expire that evening.
They returned under the shroud of darkness to stake the ground and, never crossing paths, each laying claim to the sought-after package.
Torian’s team, a seven person unit led by tenement agent Anthony Stehn, claimed to have staked datum posts at three points just 0.5 seconds after midnight on July 9, virtually the moment the land became available.
The prospecting licence applications were challenged by Ashok Parekh-chaired MacPhersons. Its crew completed the same job in three seconds.
MacPhersons submitted that the pegging raid would have taken at least 1-1.5 seconds.
Warden Adam Hills-Wright upheld MacPhersons’ complaint in a decision published this week, saying he was not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the marking out had been undertaken in accordance with the Mining Act and regulations, refusing seven licence applications.
It leaves MacPhersons, which owns the 507,000 ounce Boorara gold project just a stone’s throw to the east, the party most likely to pick up the prospective leases, although Torian still has the right to appeal.
The ground sits just 7km east of the 60Moz Golden Mile and is understood to have attracted the interest of US giant and Super Pit owner Newmont Mining, which was beaten to the punch by the two Kalgoorlie juniors.
MacPhersons general manager Andrew Pumphrey called the ground, which is wedged between tenements owned by MacPhersons and KCGM, “highly prospective”.
“We consider it highly prospective because it’s along strike from the Boorara trend,” he said. “It’s got some interesting geology there and I know that for the last 30 years Kalgoorlie prospectors have been finding alluvial gold from those tenements.
Torian Resources managing director Matt Sullivan, a veteran geologist credited with the multimillion-ounce Kanowna Belle and East Kundana gold discoveries, branded one of his employees the “Midnight Ninja” two years ago after a series of successful pegging raids on ground left to expire during the mining downturn.
He later jokingly referred to the team that led the Kalgoorlie raid as the “Ninja Crew”.
Mr Sullivan declined to comment on the warden’s decision yesterday.
The unusual case shows the technological leaps that have brought the art of midnight pegging into the 21st century.
“When we first started pegging I think we had to listen to the radio to get the correct time,” Mr Pumphrey said.
“Now you’ve got a GPS that gives you the correct time so you know you are marking out precisely three seconds past midnight.”