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Johannesburg - Gold Fields said it will probably appeal an Australian court’s finding that the award of some mining areas to its St. Ives unit is invalid.

A group of indigenous people brought the claim for the land.

A July 3 Federal Court decision by a single judge accepted the Ngadju people’s submission that the grant of the mining tenements, or production areas, is invalid as they’re inconsistent with the group’s native-title rights, Gold Fields said.

The parties now have to start a process of agreeing the terms of the claim, which could take months, the company said in a statement today.

The Ngadju people claim that 210 of the 250 mining tenements held by Johannesburg-based Gold Fields aren’t valid because the Native Title Act 1993 was not followed when the company acquired the assets and at other times, Gold Fields said on January 27.

“Gold Fields is both surprised and disappointed by this finding, and remains strongly of the view that it has at all times complied with its obligations under the Native Title Act 1993,” it said.

The company will probably appeal the decision to a three-judge Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia and the High Court if needed, it said.

Gold Fields bought St. Ives, about 80 kilometers south of the town of Kalgoorlie, in 2001, operates four underground mines there and owns an area covering 99,594 hectares, according to its website.

The company extended its presence in the region last year with the purchase of three mines from Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp.

The company will take all steps needed to ensure that the St. Ives operations are unaffected while the matter is resolved. - Bloomberg News