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Tinkler’s shadow hangs over Brisbane miner Austral’s market debut

Austral Resources will hit the ASX today with copper prices near $US10,000 a tonne but with the shadow of Nathan Tinkler hanging over it.

Nov 03, 2021, updated Nov 03, 2021
One time billionaire Nathan Tinkler has taken a stake in Jameson Resources

One time billionaire Nathan Tinkler has taken a stake in Jameson Resources

The Brisbane based company owns the Lady Annie Copper mine and recently raised $30 million with the aim of becoming one of the few pure copper plays on the ASX.

It also owns the the “shovel ready” Anthill project which it believes will produce 40,000 tonnes of grade A copper cathode over four years.

But it is already being threatened with a lawsuit from Tinkler who was one of its founders but sold out before the IPO and it’s possible that weighed on its share price today which sank 20 per cent to 16 cents after its debut.

He told The Australian he wanted to reclaim his half-stake in Austral – worth $89m on the market at the 20c issue price.

Tinkler and Austral’s executive chairman Dan Jauncey bought the copper mine in July 2019 from Hong Kong-listed CST, for $1 and Tinkler claims he was forced to sell his shares when the company hit financial trouble in the early days of the pandemic.

Tinkler told The Australian that he put 18 months into buying the Lady Annie asset and pulled together the debt, including that of Gerry Harvey.

“He (Jauncey) knew I didn’t have any money. I was the one that pulled the deal together and then he just refused to fund it. We were getting letters of demand every week and I was left with no option but to let him buy me out,” Tinkler said.

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Tinkler said he planned to sue for “shareholder oppression”.

But Austral also has strong backing. Harvey Norman boss Gerry Harvey was an early provider of debt and holds 15 million shares in the company. The Jauncey family owns another 15 million and German investment company Sparta AG holds almost 16 million.

Tinkler started accumulating his initial wealth when he paid $1 million in a deposit in 2006 for the Middlemount coal mine in central Queensland and a year later sold it to Macarthur Coal for $275 million, most of which was paid in shares. He later sold out of Macarthur for $422 million.

He was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2018 with debts of $540 million.

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