Melbourne miner inks controversial deal on occupied land

A small, new and unknown Australian company claims to have acquired a mining licence in occupied Western Sahara.  

26 September 2022

Photo above: Ellipsis Mining was first registered from the residential building to the left. WSRW has been at the location. There is no sign of the company on the front door. 

A small, newly registered and totally unknown company has obtained a controversial mining licence in occupied Western Sahara. The mining company was last year established by Clayton Cross, a “serial entrepreneur” [or download], from a residential building in Melbourne, Australia.  

Web searches on the company, Ellipsis Mining, hardly produce any hits. It has not been possible to identify any other project run by the company. The company has no social media channels. It has not been possible to find any trace of the licence in Western Sahara on any website, including of the Moroccan government, except on the page of the company itself (or download here, here, here). 

The current address of the company, according to the Ellipsis website, is a residential building at 35 Chestnut St, Cremorne, Victoria 3121, Australia. Just as the case with the address used for the registration of the business, there are no visible signs of Ellipsis Mining present at this address. 

Ellipsis notes that the exploration licence covers “the greater Aghracha area in southern Morocco for both vanadium and rare earth elements". It also notes erroneously that the licence area is “in the Sahara region, approximately 140 kilometres southeast of Dakhla” and that it has a "great iron potential (as well as titanium and vanadium), plus is highly advantageous due to its easy access and proximity to basic infrastructures and administrations”.

It should be noted that the UN, international courts and the Australian government neither refer to Western Sahara as “the Sahara region”, nor as a part of Morocco. The territory has distinct international borders and is separate from Morocco. Half the people of the territory has fled following the illegal Moroccan invasion. The territory under occupation scores lowest in the world on rankings of political freedoms. 

WSRW has earlier written about the Moroccan onshore mining programmes in the occupied territory. In 2020, Morocco’s National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines ONHYM published a marketing leaflet regarding the possibilities at the same “Aghracha” licence. An ONHYM promotion document from 2021 [or download] also mentions the area. Already in 2011, images of ONHYM exploration in Aghracha appeared. The location seems to be near or at the place where ONHYM planned digging of trenches in tenders both in 2021 and 2022. The area is at the northernmost sections of these maps drawn by WSRW

WSRW contacted the company on 20 September via both and Both mails bounced. WSRW was able to get in contact with the company switchboard on 23 September 2022, and left a message, but was not called up by the company management.

Western Sahara's national liberation movement, Polisario, has already objected to the controversial agreement. On 7 September 2022, Polisario wrote a letter to Ellipsis. Western Sahara Resource Watch has obtained a copy of the correspondence. The letter calls on the company "to cease activities in and in respect of Western Sahara" and stresses that “a reconnaissance and development license itself would be a dead letter, incapable of being traded upon or employed for financing".

Ellipsis Mining Pty Ltd was registered in July 2021 at the address 843 Drummond St., Carlton North Vic 3054, Australia, by Clayton Cross, born 1968, who is registered both as director and secretary. He is registered as the only shareholder, owning 10 million ordinary shares, at a total value of 100.000 Australian dollars. Cross also appears as founder of other small companies, such as Magnesium Mining and Grafene and Predikkta

The same director is behind the Ellipsis Mining's website domain registration and the commissioning of the company's graphic profile. A search hit on the word ‘Aghracha’ was indexed by Google on the company website as early as 20 June 2021, a month before the company was registered in the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.  

Two people appear in the Ellipsis “team”: Clayton Cross and John Canaris. The latter is described as “an exploration geologist and mining executive with more than 30 years’ experience in the Australian resource industry”.

See also Ellipsis company files from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission: Application of Registration 27 July 2021, Certificate of registration 27 July 2021, Roles and Relationship Extract 8 Sept 2022, Current and historical company information, 08 Sept 2022.

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