Australia's Argonaut Resources starts drilling at project despite Aboriginal challenge

March 21, 2021 8:38 PM EDT

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(Reuters) - Australian miner Argonaut Resources on Monday said it had started drilling at the Murdie project in South Australia, despite opposition from an Aboriginal group that says the project will damage a sacred area.

Last week, the Barngarla Aboriginal Corporation filed a legal challenge in the South Australian Supreme Court, requesting a review of the clearance granted to Argonaut in January by the South Australian Government under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988.

The company in a statement said that there were no registered Barngarla heritage sites at Lake Torrens, the project's site, adding that it was "confident that the State’s authorisation process was robust."

Australian state and federal laws around Aboriginal heritage protection are under national review after Rio Tinto legally blew up ancient rock shelters for an iron ore mine, exposing a legal framework skewed to support development.

Argonaut, focused on gold, lithium and copper exploration, said it was targeting iron oxide copper-gold mineralization with its drilling at Murdie.

(Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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