Australia's Ngadju tribe claim Gold Fields land

Kevin Crowley

The Ngadju people say Gold Fields did not comply with the Native Title Act 1993 when it acquired the mining tenements south of Kalgoorlie.

Gold Fields dropped as much as 6.2% to R36.59 in Johannesburg trading, the biggest intraday decline since November 21, and was at R38 rand at 10.39am. (Gold Fields)

Gold Fields, which spun off most of its South African mines last year, said its St Ives operation in Australia has been named in a lawsuit brought by indigenous people claiming land.

The claim by the Ngadju people relates to an area covering about 250 mining tenements, or production areas, held by St Ives, Johannesburg-based Gold Fields said on Monday.

The State of Western Australia is lead respondent in the case, while St Ives is named as an additional respondent.

Gold Fields bought St Ives, about 80km south of the town of Kalgoorlie, in 2001. It operates four underground mines and owns 996km2 of land there, according to its website.

The company extended its presence in the region last year with the purchase of three mines from mining firm Barrick Gold.

'Without merit'
"Gold Fields is strongly of the view that the assertions made by the Ngadju people are unfounded and without merit," the company said. "It has engaged senior counsel and is vigorously defending its position in these proceedings." 

The Gold Fields share price fell by as much as 6.2% to R36.59 per share in Johannesburg trading, the biggest intra-day decline since November 21, and was at R38 per share at 10.39am on Monday.

The Ngadju people say 210 of the 250 mining tenements held by Gold Fields aren't valid because the Native Title Act 1993 was not followed when the company acquired the assets nor at other times.

Proceedings begin in March and a decision isn't expected for six to 12 months thereafter, Gold Fields said. – Bloomberg

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