Indonesian mine ‘stolen’ from Intrepid could return to the ASX

The world-class Tujuh Bukit copper-gold mine in Indonesia, famously “stolen” from Australia’s Intrepid Mines in 2012, is likely to return to the ASX under new ownership.

Merdeka Copper Gold chief executive Colin Moorhead said the company, which has spent the past 18 months bringing the project into production, would be interested in a secondary listing, mostly likely in Australia, when it moved to fund a second phase of the project within the next few years.

Intrepid famously lost its 80 per cent stake in Tujuh Bukit in July 2012 when its Indonesian partner suddenly seized control of the site and transferred ownership of the project to other parties.

Intrepid had spent more than $100 million proving the project’s potential and, at one time, had a market value of more than $1 billion.

Indonesia’s reputation as a destination for mining investment was damaged by the high-profile controversy. After heavier regulation and export controls in the country in recent years, a number of major mining companies have exited investments there.

Mr Moorhead conceded the mine’s controversial past had not helped the country’s reputation but argued Intrepid’s woes should not put investors off Indonesia-focused miners.

“The short story there is you shouldn’t spend money on a project you don’t have clear title to,” he said.

The type of mining lease held by Intrepid’s project partner could not be held by foreigners at the time.

“They had to get the [partner] nominees to sign off on the joint venture. Intrepid raised and spent about $100 million on the project and the more they spent, the more successful they got, the less and less likely it was they were ever going to get the signature to get on title.

“Newcrest would not let you do a $5 million deal on those terms, neither would Newmont, neither would any other mining company. So there was a bit of naivety there but it was unfortunate because it was a bad look for the industry.”

Mr Moorhead joined Merdeka in January 2016,…

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