New developments surrounding Port Augusta-based Native Title corporation

CHALLENGE: Indigenous leader Vince Coulthard says the Rangelea trust is challenging a decision that suspended mining royalty payments.
CHALLENGE: Indigenous leader Vince Coulthard says the Rangelea trust is challenging a decision that suspended mining royalty payments.

The quest for accountability regarding millions of dollars in mining royalties is on a bumpy road.

This comes after a special administrator blocked any more compensation payments to Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association trust Rangelea by Heathgate Resources.

The payments were suspended until Rangelea details what happened to millions of dollars paid so far.

In the latest development, the trust has hit back with a legal letter to Heathgate challenging its role.

This means the task of unravelling the Rangelea finances has become more difficult for special administrator Peter McQuoid. "We are just asking nicely ... what did you do with the money?" he said.

He said the royalties accrued at the rate of $260,000 monthly with the first quarter of this year involving $780,000 and last calendar year $4 million.

"I am looking at the Native Title Mining Agreement. I don't want to make any changes in determinations," Mr McQuoid said.

He said the Adnyamathanha common law-holders were entitled to know the answer to his questions.

Vince Coulthard, former chairman of the association and elected representative of a common law-holders group, said he had attended a Rangelea board meeting in Adelaide.

He said trust's directors had asked lawyers to write to the administrator and Heathgate saying they had no right to withhold royalties.

To back their argument, the directors are relying on an agreement involving the association and Heathgate in the Federal Court in the early 2000s.

"That agreement can only be changed back in the Federal Court, as I understand it," Mr Coulthard said.

He said other legal action could be taken.

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