1) I am supposed to have received $ 25,000 ! In fact this is what the
American lawyer Bordelon received, but I was on a contingency fee, so he kept 40
% of that amount. The rest is what I received and should allow for all my years
of prospecting in Australia, the investment in material and special
superior Geological knowledge, the 3 successive lawyers I had
in Australia (Mazza, Picton-Warlow & Canon), the chasing around of
the Mining Criminals around the world, the waste of time in writing and
participating in all types of actions with view to obtain justice ... and the
satisfaction of having obtained nothing at the end !
In fact and being quite conservative, I may say that I cleared NOT ONE
CENT NOR ONE THANKS OF THE WHOLE VENTURE !
2) I was not a trained Geologist, I agree, but so were none of all
the Australian Mining Pioneers who made that country ! ... further trained Geologists
are in fact patented idiots, and this why they do not find anything at all
indeed ! Their alleged finds are in fact preyed upon real Geologists who
are the Mining Prospectors. Further still, I am the founder and creator indeed
of the True Geology based on the UPL, or Universal Pressure Law ! So regarding
both the History of the Earth and its Genesis, I am the one who knows the True
Story, and not those other Gogological Morons ( Don Findlay excepted of course )
The Golden Riddle: Finder's Keepers?
Produced by Bronwyn Adcock
Sunday 6 June 1999
Bronwyn Adcock: Today we bring you the story of a young French immigrant who
walked alone in the formidable Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia. Out here
among sweeping sand dunes, red dusty earth and dry spinifex, he discovered a
large rocky dome. This dome is now the site of one of Australia's most
profitable gold mines. The French prospector has never been given official
credit for the discovery. These days he lives in north-western France where he
operates a website on the Internet. The site is called
Reader: The Greatest Australian Mining Covered up Swindle of the 20th Century.
Bronwyn Adcock: This website documents his 30-year battle and has many, at times
outlandish, proclamations, such as this one calling for a Royal Inquiry.
Reader: If I say, The promised Royal Inquiry is not convened in the shortest
delays now, the poor people of Australia will be compelled, to their dismay,
consternation and horror, to come to the immensely calamitous conclusion that
now in Australia, the convicts and the outlaws have taken over control of
Western Australia and indeed of the whole of Australia.
Bronwyn Adcock: Behind this website there lies an intriguing saga of adventure
and obsession with a cast of colourful characters. There's the French
prospector, a shy Swiss geologist, a reclusive Scottish geologist, a small
company that lost the opportunity of a lifetime, and a massive gold mine called
There are so many twists and turns in this 30-year-long saga that an analogy may
be useful. It's like the feeding chain in a tropical fish tank. There's a small
fish that gets gobbled up by a slightly bigger fish. This slightly bigger fish
then gets eaten by a really big fish, and then finally, the biggest fish of all
takes the lot.
Hello, this is Background Briefing. I'm Bronwyn Adcock.
The main character is Jean-Paul Turcaud, the French prospector who wandered
alone in the desert. For 30 years he's been saying he's the discoverer, but the
company who owns the mine and the West Australian government don't agree.
Jean-Paul Turcaud: Well I've never accepted this from the beginning and I don't
see why I should accept it now.
Bronwyn Adcock: Why do you not accept it?
Jean-Paul Turcaud: Would you have accepted it? To be robbed that way, you see
it's very, very difficult to be a prospector to survive and prospect in the
desert, it's very hard. It's very difficult, you know, not many people can do
that. You have to walk up to 50 miles a day sometimes, you have to survive in
very harsh conditions and you have to keep on going with at times up to 15
pounds of samples or 20 pounds of samples on your back. You have to carry it all
day and you know, sleep on dunes at night and so on.
So just to come back to your question, I do not accept that in return for all
the risk and all the money I've spent, I spent all my money, everything went
into that you see, I don't accept to be fleeced and robbed and put aside you
Bronwyn Adcock: While Jean-Paul may feel he has been hardly done by, there is no
suggestion that the company involved has acted in any way illegally.
The Telfer Gold Mine lies in the Eastern Pilbara in an area called the Paterson
Range. While the whole area is rich in minerals, the actual mine itself comes
from a huge dome-like structure that rises out of the desert. This dome is
called the Telfer Dome.
The Telfer Gold Mine has produced more than $2-billion worth of gold in its 20
years of operations.
The company that established and owned the mine was originally called Newmont
Pty Ltd., registered as a US company trading in Australia. Following a number of
amalgamations and name changes, this company became Newcrest Mining Ltd., a
wholly-owned Australian company. Newcrest owns Telfer today.
Newcrest refused to speak to Background Briefing about the controversy that's
dragged the jewel in their corporate crown, one executive saying, 'It's all been
However not everyone agrees that the fully story has been told.
Bob Shepard: It's important for our heritage that the truth about our pioneer
prospectors is known within the community.
Bronwyn Adcock: Bob Shepard is the President of the Amalgamated Prospectors and
Leaseholders Association in Western Australia. APLA is a group that represents
the interests of prospectors. He's been researching the discovery of what is now
the Telfer Gold Mine for two years and he says that Jean-Paul was the original
discoverer of the area. Bob Shepard first became interested when he was
researching the discovery of all gold mines in Western Australia, trying to
ascertain which were discovered by individual prospectors as opposed to
Bob Shepard: We looked at all the large-scale goldmines in the State and Telfer
was one of the goldmines that we thought was definitely found by companies. I
asked the question around the place and I was told that a Frenchman by the name
of Jean-Paul Turcaud had actually discovered the deposit at Telfer.
Bronwyn Adcock: This information surprised Bob Shepard at the time.
Bob Shepard: Because I'd never ever heard it anywhere else, I was just told that
by a prospector. So I asked around, and a few people in the mining circle said,
'Yes, that's the case, that he claimed to have found the Telfer deposit', but
most people thought it was really Newmont that had done all the work.
Bronwyn Adcock: After much research, Bob Shepard thinks the official history may
Bob Shepard: The reports in the Mines Department, the official line that is
provided by our Mines Minister now, which I've seen a copy of, which I have a
copy of, is not entirely accurate in my view, and I think it's really important
that the real story of the discovery of Telfer is well researched, and is told
properly from all sides of the argument, not just from the corporate side, which
has been to date.
Bronwyn Adcock: Jean-Paul Turcaud arrived in Australia as a young immigrant from
France in the late 1960s. He was a former French Legionnaire, and by all
accounts a very tall and handsome man.
He was also a very spiritual man, a believer in the ancient Christian sect
called the Essenes, the sect who are believed to have written the Dead Sea
Scrolls. Followers believe in being in harmony with nature and are strict
Jean-Paul had been involved in prospecting for most of his life; he arrived in
Western Australia when Perth was in the grip of nickel boom and the mining
industry in full flight. One of his best friends from that time was another
Frenchman, Jacques Philippe. Jacques Philippe is a clinical psychologist, he
still lives in Perth and remembers Jean-Paul and those days very well.
Jacques Philippe: I met him in a small place in Perth, Northbridge, which at the
time used to be a place where the French would congregate. I used to go there to
play chess. We used to meet practically every day, and I found as time went by,
I found that he was extremely hardworking, extremely honest, very trusty of
people, you see. With a very deep sense of the sacred, he was extremely, and
still is, very deeply religious, right. Very, very intelligent, he taught
himself geology, he became a commercial pilot, he learnt English I think when he
came to Australia, he could hardly speak English but he learnt English in six
Bronwyn Adcock: Jean-Paul Turcaud's journey into the Australian desert was in
1970. It was then that he found a previously undiscovered mineralised area, in a
part of the Eastern Pilbara called the Paterson Ranges. Just over two years
later, a company called Newmont pegged that same area and started work on a
mine. And so Jean-Paul's battle began.
SFX - "This Day Tonight"
Reporter: For Jean-Paul Turcaud, self-acclaimed finder of a modern-day
Lasseter's Reef, the streets of Perth are paved with anything but gold.
Twelve years ago he fought as a Second Lieutenant with the French Army in
Algeria. Now he's fighting another battle, this time with a national mining
Bronwyn Adcock: This is from the ABC program 'This Day Tonight' in 1975.
Jean-Paul's case received some prominence in the early '70s; Labor's
Attorney-General supported Turcaud's claims and had raised the matter in
parliament many times. In 1975 when Labor had returned to opposition, Mr Evans
stood up in parliament and said there appeared to be 'a gross miscarriage of
moral justice'. He called for an inquiry into the affair.
As well as political attention, it also attracted legal attention. Jean-Paul
hired a lawyer called Jim Mazza.
When Background Briefing tracked Jim Mazza down in Perth, he was surprised but
also delighted. He's never thrown out the files about Jean-Paul's case because
he thought that one day they might be needed.
Jim Mazza: I did it because I thought it was a fantastic human interest story
and you've picked it up now 30 years down the path. It was an interesting story,
and interesting developments, not only on the discovery but the politics of the
whole thing. It's just one of those files that you feel I'd like to keep.
Bronwyn Adcock: Jim Mazza was himself a passionate mining entrepreneur in his
day. He proudly says that he was born on the goldfields. He immediately warmed
to the French prospector.
Jim Mazza: Well my first recollections are that he was a young, tall, vigorous,
good-looking Frenchman with a beautiful French accent, terribly polite, and
rather apprehensive about his situation.
Bronwyn Adcock: Jim Mazza had a difficult job representing Jean-Paul. Jean-Paul
had no legal leg to stand on. The Mining Act clearly states that the way to get
rights to land is to peg it. This is the actual physical process of hammering
stakes in the ground and marking out your territory.
Jean-Paul never pegged the area he found. This was his ultimate downfall in the
eyes of the last.
The case was also difficult because Jean-Paul never had any written agreements
with any of the companies he dealt with. He says he thought a culture of honour
would be enough.
Jim Mazza: His legal position was very tenuous, because he had nothing in
writing, there was no real contract, and it's like lots of things that happen in
mining. If you discover something interesting and you tell somebody, and they go
along and peg it, it's just bad luck for you.
Bronwyn Adcock: So you were relying on your powers of persuasion or negotiation
with the company?
Jim Mazza: No, I was relying on perhaps the company relenting and having a bit
Bronwyn Adcock: Legal wrangling between Newmont and Jean-Paul went on for most
of the '70s, without an outcome. Towards the end of the '70s, Jean-Paul decided
to leave Australia. He was trying to study at university, but he was struggling
financially and not coping. The pressure of his seemingly unwinable battle got
too much for him.
Jean-Paul Turcaud: Well I didn't want to leave Australia, I just wanted to stay
at university for the rest of the year, but I could not stand it, I could not
stand seeing in the papers you know, the stories about the progression of the
development of the mine and so on, so I just had to go. I could not see any
outcome you see; I wasn't able to fight these people, and just had to leave.
Bronwyn Adcock: Jean-Paul's best friend, Jacques Phillipe, remembers this time
well. For a while they were a flat together in Perth.
Jacques Phillipe: He was in a state of complete agitation. And I told him, I
said 'I think it's time for you to go back to France,' because he didn't have
any support, he was on his own. He had a few friends, like me. In actual fact I
was his best friend. He couldn't take it any more.
Bronwyn Adcock: What was his state at that time?
Jacques Phillipe: Very agitated, suicidal, a lot of rage contained, rage within
Bronwyn Adcock: Finally in the early '80s, Jean-Paul did reach a settlement,
accepting $25,000 from Newmont's head office in New York. Legally that settled
the issue. Jean-Paul however, has continued on, not for any money, but because
he says the true story of the events surrounding the discovery still hasn't been
revealed. He wants the Royal Commission that was promised to him by the
politician, Mr Evans, back in 1975.
As well as running his elaborate Internet site, he's sent fliers outlining his
case to outback pubs and RSL Clubs, and written hundreds of letters and emails
to Australian politicians, companies and even the Queen.
Jean-Paul has just posted his latter letter to the Queen on his website, asking
for the Royal Inquiry. Jean-Paul is confident this will happen.
Jean-Paul Turcaud: I was told by many people, especially by Mr Evans, the
Honourable Evans, that the Royal Inquiry which was required would not be
affected by time or space or anything of the kind. And I still remember very
clearly, once Mr Evans came to my place in Kalgoorlie, Macdonald Street, and
said to me, 'The requirement of this Inquiry is actually in the Acts of
Parliament in the Hansard so that means it will come, it will eventuate.' So I
don't think Mr Evans was a liar, and I think he said what he said will happen.
I'm very sure this Inquiry will happen. I don't hope it will happen, I know it
Bronwyn Adcock: But Jean-Paul, Mr Evans is dead now.
Jean-Paul Turcaud: Yes. All the more this Inquiry has to come through.
Bronwyn Adcock: The current government in Western Australia doesn't support an
Inquiry. How do you think that this support will be gathered?
Jean-Paul Turcaud: Well I have made an appeal to Her Majesty the Queen. I don't
give a damn about what they say in the opposition or the actual government of
Western Australia, I think this government's going to go, I think this
government's going to be dismissed. And I think this Inquiry will take place,
despite these people.
Bronwyn Adcock: Will you ever give up, do you think, Jean-Paul?
Jean-Paul Turcaud: Well I don't think I have to give up. I have done everything
which was humanly possible, and I have put everything on the table. I think the
decision will be Her Majesty's decision. I think if something has to be done, it
will come from this quarter, from the Crown. In fact I think it's out of my
Bronwyn Adcock: There is no doubt that Jean-Paul Turcaud was the original
discoverer of the area that is now the Telfer Gold Mine. After two years of
looking at maps and Mines Department records, Bob Shepard is absolutely
Bob Shepard: Well I've had a look at Turcaud's maps, and I've tried to correlate
the information or compare it to Mines Department records. There's no doubt in
my mind that Jean-Paul Turcaud went to the site where Telfer now is. If anyone
suggests that he didn't go there, I can't understand why they would say that, it
would have to be a scam of just absolutely enormous scale for him to have
dreamed all this up. And you've got to remember that he did actually take a
number of mining companies back to the area in the early '70s, including Western
Mining and Anglo American I think, and he knew his way round when he was there,
so he'd definitely been to the place.
Bronwyn Adcock: And the maps show that he has marked what is Telfer Dome?
Bob Shepard: Yes, and it was actually marked as Pascale Hill, after his sister,
that's what he wanted to call it. But the Department of Land Administration or
the Lands and Surveys actually rejected that name.
Bronwyn Adcock: While there is no doubt that Jean-Paul was the first to the
area, not everyone would agree that this makes him eligible for the title of
David Tyrwhitt is the man who pegged the ground at what is now the Telfer Mine.
He is widely credited as the man who discovered Telfer. He was the West
Australian Manager of Newmont; he was also involved in the development of the
mine, and eventually rose to the position of Director of Newmont. David Tyrwhitt
is now the Director of a company called Quantum Resources.
David Tyrwhitt says Jean-Paul Turcaud is not the discoverer, because he did not
discover gold. It is true that Jean-Paul didn't recognise gold specifically; he
found a mineral-rich area that he thought would have many possibilities, though
most likely copper. He says he realised that gold was probably there, but he
didn't think it was the most important mineral in the area.
David Tyrwhitt: Telfer is what it is, absolutely and only because it's a gold
prospect, and later obviously became a major gold mine. A discoverer is the
person who recognises the valuable metal, well in this case it was all about
metallic deposits. If you don't recognise gold, you haven't discovered Telfer.
Bronwyn Adcock: Do you think though Jean-Paul Turcaud deserves any credit for
David Tyrwhitt: Not really the discovery. As a pioneer, he deserves recognition
of course. The trouble is, with pioneers who go out and don't find commercial
indications, is that their pioneering work is never recognised. So I mean I
suppose if you want a simple answer to that, no, he doesn't deserve any credit
for the Telfer discovery, if you want just a straightforward answer. But yes, I
admire his pioneering spirit. The fact that most of that work was done alone. So
I take my hat off to him in that respect, but tragically he didn't pick up the
gold and therefore he did not play a critical role in the discovery process.
Bronwyn Adcock: David Tyrwhitt.
While Jean-Paul did not discover the gold, Bob Shepard thinks this does not take
away from his claim to be the discoverer.
Bob Shepard: I think perhaps in the minds of a lot of people it does detract,
but in my mind it doesn't. Turcaud discovered the mineralisation which pointed
the way to the discovery of the huge Telfer gold mine. Without that initial
discovery, Telfer may still lay hidden under the sands of the Great Sandy
Desert, and may not have yet been discovered or may have been discovered a lot
later. So people who suggest that because Turcaud didn't see it as a gold show,
or he didn't find gold, it really is irrelevant.
Bronwyn Adcock: This last point is the key to the story. The issue is not so
much whether Jean-Paul Turcaud discovered gold, it's more whether his discovery
of the area and his information directly led Newmont to the discovery of gold
and subsequently the mine. This is the basis of Jean-Paul's claims and what's
behind his calls for an inquiry.
To see if there is a connection, we need to trace the story, beginning at the
time when Jean-Paul first journeyed into the desert.
Bronwyn Adcock: When Jean-Paul arrived in the Great Sandy Desert in 1970 it was
an isolated, untouched land, dense with sweeping sand dunes. Other than
Aborigines, a few 19th century explorers, and perhaps the fabled Lasseter, few
people had ever ventured there.
Bob Shepard: It must be some of the hardest country around I would think.
There's a lot of sand dunes, not many landmarks. If you look at the early maps
of the Paterson Range, the Paterson Range sheet, you'll find very few landmarks
on there. But a lot of the landmarks actually had "PD" near them,
which means 'position doubtful' and all prospectors know about that, that the
locations of soaks, waterholes, those sorts of things with "PD" next
to them are totally unreliable. So there wasn't much out there, it hadn't been
explored to any great extent. There'd been no major mineral discoveries in the
particular area, and it had really been ignored by companies and by the
government, mainly because of the difficulties in getting to the area I suppose.
Bronwyn Adcock: Government reports from this time say there is no economic
potential in the area. If anything, this isolation was an attraction to the
young Jean-Paul Turcaud.
Jean-Paul Turcaud: I was involved at the time as independent prospector, and
just decided to go to places where people thought nothing could be found.
Bronwyn Adcock: Jean-Paul Turcaud is not a formally trained geologist.
Nevertheless, he developed his own geological theories about the origins of
mineral deposits. These theories are different to conventional beliefs.
Jean-Paul Turcaud: So I just planned that trip according to these ideas, and you
may have in fact, had a look at some of my theories and my way of thinking. I
just think differently.
Bronwyn Adcock: Jean-Paul's friend, Jacques Philippe recalls.
Jacques Phillipe: He took his risks you know, he had some savings, he taught
himself you know, the basics of geology, and he went by himself. He bought a
second-hand pick-up truck, he bought two gallons of drinkable water, and he was
completely on his own with a pick and a shovel.
Bronwyn Adcock: This makes him either brave or foolhardy, says Bob Shepard.
Bob Shepard: He must have been a very brave man. Some would suggest he would be
a bit foolhardy to tackle it on his own, and from what I can gather, he went
close to perishing on an occasion, on one of his trips. And he was in the
Paterson Range area when he made his discovery for I think about four weeks on
his own. So he carried enough supplies, fuel, water, lived off the land to some
degree, though he was a vegetarian, so he never shot kangaroos or anything like
that to eat. But yes, it would have been a very tricky job.
Bronwyn Adcock: Jean-Paul had his own special prospecting technique: he used his
car as a base, radiating from it on foot for up to 20 miles in a wing-like
Jean-Paul Turcaud: The conditions are quite tough, but I was used to these types
of conditions; I was in the army in the Sahara Desert, and I was quite used to
these types of conditions. You have to be very careful and plan your trip, and
do things carefully, and then everything's fine. Also at the time I was quite
tough and could walk quite a long time, a long way, and how could I say? I had
very good stamina I would say.
Bronwyn Adcock: In late 1970, Jean-Paul Turcaud made his discovery. In the
Paterson Ranges he found a massive stretch of gossans, mineral-rich rock. The
area was huge, there was the main dome, but also many other structures in the
Jean-Paul Turcaud: I was impressed. I thought it was a good find and I thought
it was a major discovery. I estimated the deposit at the time to be 2400 square
kilometres in size. So it was a very good thing, and I just explored it north
and south in all directions.
Bronwyn Adcock: Jean-Paul Turcaud emerged from the desert exhausted, but excited
about his discovery. He drove his dusty four-wheel-drive into the nearest town,
which was Marble Bar. Marble Bar is just south-west of Port Headland and holds
the honour of being the hottest town in Australia.
On his first day in Marble Bar, Jean-Paul was outside the grocery shop in the
main street when he met a man called Bill Brook. Bill Brook was the Marble Bar
Exploration Manager for the company Newmont.
Today Bill Brook is living in Fiji, from where he spoke to Background Briefing
by phone. Bill Brook says he was stunned by his meeting with this young French
Bill Brook: Well I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was quite amazed that
a Frenchman was out there doing what he was doing. I thought he was fairly naive
and I thought he was fairly stupid trying to do what he was doing. I thought he
was probably endangering his own life.
Bronwyn Adcock: But nevertheless he did survive out there for that time.
Bill Brook: He did, he did, and seemed to thrive on it.
Bronwyn Adcock: After chatting for a while, Bill Brook invited Jean-Paul out to
the Newmont camp for dinner that night. Ironically Jean-Paul's first real meal
in weeks was as a guest of the company that he was to spend the next three
decades of his life fighting.
Jean-Paul had already decided that he wanted to interest a big company in his
find. He didn't want to peg the area himself for a number of reasons. He thought
it was too big for him to physically peg on his own; it also would have been too
expensive, potentially costing thousands of dollars. He was also wary about
causing a bout of claim-jumping: during the Nickel Boom it was not uncommon for
hungry prospectors to flock like flies. As soon as one person started pegging,
others would peg all around just in case there was something to be gained.
Jean-Paul thought that such a large area needed a big company to control it.
Newmont was the first company he tried to interest. During dinner with Bill
Brook that night at Marble Bar, Jean-Paul told him about the discovery and asked
if Newmont would be interested.
Bill Brook: He talked about his prospect out in the Paterson Ranges, which I'd
never really heard of. It all sounded a bit far-fetched.
Bronwyn Adcock: What were your impressions of what he'd found, what did he tell
you about his discovery?
Bill Brook: Well obviously I didn't think very much of it, otherwise I would
have high-tailed it out there and given him some assistance or whatever.
Certainly at the time he approached me it was fairly hot and I was fairly busy
finalising the end of the year work and I said, 'Well, come and see me when it's
Bronwyn Adcock: Jean-Paul left Marble Bar and went to Perth, taking with him his
maps and diagrams of the area and hundreds of pounds of samples.
In the next 18 months he approached in all, 15 different mining companies,
trying to get some interest in his discovery. He succeeded in getting two big
companies, Western Mining and Anglo-American, to go out to the site with him,
but he couldn't convince them to peg the ground.
This lack of interest can in part be attributed to the fact that no-one assayed
for gold. While it may seem hard to believe now, in the early '70s the price of
gold was so low that it wasn't seen as a viable prospect. If anything, gold was
seen only as a useful by-product, for example at the Mount Isa copper mine in
Queensland, gold was just used to pay for the cost of extracting the copper.
Jean-Paul also approached Newmont again, taking Bill Brook up on his offer to
come and see him when the weather was cooler. Bill Brook was in Perth now, so
Jean-Paul came to see him, taking along his samples, some assay results and his
maps of the gossanous areas.
Jean-Paul says he left all this with Bill Brook for a week. When he returned he
was told, 'Sorry, Newmont is not interested.'
This is Bill Brook's recollection of events.
Bill Brook: I can recall seeing his map of the area showing his gossans, and it
was fairly boldly-drawn thing, with I think the gossans shown in red. It's about
the only bit of data I recall. Obviously he had some assays I think, probably
some copper assays; there were no gold assays as far as I recall, and if there
were some gold assays we might have taken it a bit more seriously.
Bronwyn Adcock: Do you remember why you decided that Newmont wasn't interested?
I understand that you said to him after about a week that they were not
Bill Brook: No I didn't make that decision at all. I gave the data and
information to David Tyrwhitt who was the then manager of Newmont in Western
Australia. And he would have made the decision.
Bronwyn Adcock: Right, so you gave all Jean-Paul's data to David Tyrwhitt.
Bill Brook: Yep, yep.
Bronwyn Adcock: And how long would he have had that for?
Bill Brook: Oh, I can't recall that, it probably would have been only a matter
of a week or two or thereabouts, if that, perhaps it was a couple of days I
can't remember, I don't recall it being a long period of time, otherwise
Jean-Paul would have been getting annoyed. We would have discussed it with Dave
and the same thing, 'Well, it's too far away, we don't want to bother going out
there', and it wasn't a prospective area, nothing was known about it and they
had no faith in the area; it was a brand-new discovery and we didn't appreciate
what he'd found.
Bronwyn Adcock: Do you recall what David Tyrwhitt said to you when he came back
to you after looking at the work?
Bill Brook: No, no, I don't recall that, except that I passed on to Jean-Paul
that Newmont weren't interested.
Bronwyn Adcock: Newmont wasn't interested then, but just 18 months later, David
Tyrwhitt went out and pegged the ground for Newmont. Upon hearing this news,
Jean-Paul was furious. He met with Newmont and was told that Newmont arrived at
the area completely independently of Jean-Paul Turcaud.
Jean-Paul Turcaud: I was quite upset you see, I did not accept that, and I have
never accepted that from the time they done that.
Bronwyn Adcock: David Tyrwhitt says his pegging of the site had nothing to do
with Jean-Paul Turcaud, and that he definitely didn't use the information that
Jean-Paul had given Newmont 18 months earlier.
While Bill Brook's recollection is that he gave Jean-Paul's data to David
Tyrwhitt, David Tyrwhitt has a different recollection. He says Bill Brook just
mentioned it to him.
David Tyrwhitt: I think it was actually '71 that he mentioned it to me, though
me may have discussed it in 1970, and it was one of probably I would think, at
least ten prospect issues that Bill raised with me, he was running our Marble
Bar program for Newmont. And my recollection of that conversation was, 'Oh by
the way, there was some data that came in from a French prospector.' He probably
named him, to be honest I really don't recall that, but I imagine he would have
done. 'And I've had a look at it, the maximum grade was a few percent copper and
some malachite stained samples. Nothing really worth following up. And I
returned the data to him.' And I acknowledged that yes, that was fine.
He didn't specify the location other than it was in the remote East Pilbara. So
it wasn't given to me in a sort of specific form.
Bronwyn Adcock: Background Briefing learnt of Bill Brook's claims after the
recorded interview was done with David Tyrwhitt. We did however contact Tyrwhitt
again and put Bill Brook's version of events directly to him. He said he didn't
think he had actual physical possession of Jean-Paul's data, though he probably
would have sighted some of it, but he never made any copies. He said the bottom
line is that Jean-Paul's information did not lead him out to the area.
The question here is obvious: how did Newmont come to peg the same area that
Jean-Paul had discovered, without using any of the information that Jean-Paul
had passed on through Bill Brook?
David Tyrwhitt says it was via a company called Day Dawn.
Jean-Paul didn't know at the time but around six months after he returned from
making his discovery in the Paterson Ranges, geologists from a small exploration
company called Day Dawn Minerals made a trip out to the exact same spot. This
company had assayed for gold, and had got incredible results.
This is how the story goes: the Directors of Day Dawn decided not to peg the
area and shortly afterwards ended their contract with the firm that supplied all
their geologists. One of these geologists, a man called Ronnie Thomson, then got
a job with Newmont. Over a beer one night Ronnie told his new boss, David
Tyrwhitt, about the promising gold samples that had been found. Together they
went to the Managing Director of Day Dawn to see if he would be willing to sell
all the data about the area. The Director said yes, and a deal was struck
whereby Newmont was to pay Day Dawn a total of $15,000 dollars. The maps,
reports and assay results were handed over.
Ronnie and Tyrwhitt then flew over the area in a light plane while Ronnie
pointed out the main gossanous areas. Ronnie then flew back to Perth and
Tyrwhitt made one more trip out to the Paterson Range before returning to peg
the ground in May of 1972.
David Tyrwhitt happily acknowledges that it was Ronnie Thomson who led him out
to the area, but he says he undertook the vital step of pegging the ground.
David Tyrwhitt: Well I suppose I'd have to say, and I'm not being boastful about
it, it was a pivotal role. I was the exploration manager in Western Australia at
the time, so I had responsibilities for all the prospecting we were doing
throughout the State, and Telfer came to me through Ronnie Thomson who we just
hired in early '72, and it was a prospect that he'd worked on the year before in
'71, that he drew to my attention which encouraged me to go out and have a look
at Telfer, even though it was very remote. But the first samples that he drew to
my attention were pretty high-grade, so they came in after I encouraged them to
go and have a look at it. But I did stake the claim, so I suppose that literally
is where it all started.
Bronwyn Adcock: So you would say that your role I guess was the beginning of the
David Tyrwhitt: Well yes, absolutely, because staking claims over the discovery
outcrops is absolutely fundamentally the beginning of what later became a very
large gold deposit. I mean that is the first stage of any mineral exploration
activity, acquiring title to the ground.
Bronwyn Adcock: David Tyrwhitt did what everyone else failed to do: recognise
that the ground was worth pegging for gold. His gamble also ensured the future
success of Newmont as an Australian company.
The fact that Newmont says they got to Telfer via Day Dawn does not exclude the
French prospector Jean-Paul Turcaud from the picture. Even this trail could lead
back to Jean-Paul.
One of the first places Jean-Paul Turcaud went to when he came out of the desert
was to a consultancy firm in Perth called Berven and Schiller. He'd been told
that getting a consultant might help him find a company to back him. Jean-Paul
gave his samples to Berven and Schiller to assay. Like everyone else they didn't
assay for gold. Bob Berven, who still lives in Perth today, says he remembers
the results as being average and not worth them pursuing. Nevertheless Bob
Berven says he passed Jean-Paul on to someone else who might be interested.
Bob Berven: Well I guess we felt maybe there was some reason for at least
somebody follow up, and so we introduced him to a company called Day Dawn
Minerals, which had a technical group called William Johnson and Associates
working for them as geologists and geophysicists, and we sent Jean-Paul along to
see them, I believe through a person called Percy Jenkins, who was the office
manager or general manager at the time. And some of their geologists then
started working with Jean-Paul and probably I think one of them was Ronnie
Thomson, and they started pursuing things a little further. And Dr Schiller and
myself kind of dropped out of the scene.
Bronwyn Adcock: Jean-Paul's recollections about this are unfortunately for him,
very foggy. He thinks it was Day Dawn he went to, but he can't remember the name
of the person he spoke to. He is definite about one thing though, he was told
they were not interested in his discovery.
Bob Berven says he sent Jean-Paul along to see a man at Day Dawn called Percy
Jenkins. This can't be confirmed because Percy Jenkins is dead. The second man
that Bob Berven mentioned, Ronnie Thomson, is still alive and lives in Perth. He
denies that he had any dealings with Jean-Paul.
Ronnie Thomson is reclusive character. He's not spoken on the record about the
Telfer affair for decades. He's known for hanging up on anyone who calls to talk
about the controversy. Ronnie did not want to do a taped interview with
Background Briefing, though after several phone conversations he agreed to meet.
We met at a Chinese restaurant in North Perth.
Bronwyn Adcock: Ronnie brought his own herbal tea along to the restaurant, it's
a special Chinese blend. He proudly tells me that he has no addictions, he
doesn't drink or smoke.
He's a tall bearded man, with a strong Scottish accent. Ronnie told me that
Jean-Paul had absolutely nothing to do with Day Dawn's trip out to the area.
Ronnie said he devised the plan to go out there himself; he used his knowledge
of the copper belts in Africa and was looking for the same kind of formations.
Ronnie also told me how he unsuccessfully tried to convince the Day Dawn board
to go out and peg the area. But once he left Day Dawn, he didn't mention the
amazing gold discovery to anyone, until he was hired by Newmont, then he told
David Tyrwhitt about the find.
SFX- Fade out restaurant noise
Ronnie only had a six-month contract with Newmont. This contract was not renewed
Background Briefing has also spoken to other people who were employed by William
Johnson and Associates, but worked for Day Dawn. Ian Martin is one. He worked
for Day Dawn in the period both before and during their exploration in the
Paterson Ranges. I went to see Ian Martin one rainy afternoon in Perth.
Ian Martin: I had never heard of Jean-Paul Turcaud until 1975.
Bronwyn Adcock: So there was no input at all?
Ian Martin: Obviously no input.
Bronwyn Adcock: Is it at all possible that Percy Jenkins or anyone else in Day
Dawn could have been given Jean-Paul Turcaud's information and that was not
passed on to anyone else in the company?
Ian Martin: It's always possible. But it seems surprising that that information
wouldn't have been passed through to the geological side of the exercise.
Bronwyn Adcock: So you think that if the information had come through, it would
have been passed through to you and the other geologists?
Ian Martin: Yes, I am sure it would have been. So I don't believe the
information ever reached Day Dawn.
Bronwyn Adcock: Ian Martin did not go out to the Paterson Range area himself.
However he says he was instrumental in the planning of the trip.
told me that it was his idea to go out there, but Ian Martin says it wasn't
Ronnie's idea, it was his. Ian Martin described in detail how he conceptualised
the trip to what is now Telfer. He started by studying aerial photos that were
on file in a government department.
Ian Martin: Aerial photography, known as RC9 photography which is to a scale of
1 is to 79600 produced by the Commonwealth Government.
Bronwyn Adcock: Do you recall why you chose that particular area just there in
the Paterson Range around where the Telfer Dome is?
Ian Martin: I started at an area known as Mickey Pool on the Rudall River and
simply followed the outcrops of rocks visible on the aerial photographs further
to the north, and eventually ended up in the Telfer area in the Mallu Hills
area, which is immediately to the north of Telfer. It was only at Telfer that I
saw similar structures to what I was looking for, and had been looking for down
in the Ruddal River area.
Bronwyn Adcock: So it was you who initially pinpointed that structure and said,
'We should go out there'?
Ian Martin: That's correct, yes.
Bronwyn Adcock: Ian Martin.
The decision by the Day Dawn Board to not peg the discovery seems to fly in the
face of commonsense. So does their decision to sell the information about the
area to Newmont for a mere $15,000. The Managing Director of Day Dawn at this
time was Ian Cornelius. He's now involved in a new business venture in New
Zealand. I called him one evening to ask what happened with Day Dawn.
Ian Cornelius: It's a great after-dinner story actually, because it's probably
one of my worst-ever deals. The Paterson Range prospect which was being examined
by the company, along with many other prospects I might add, subsequently became
the Telfer gold mine, which I think went on to become the biggest gold producer
in Australia, probably it's not now the largest producer, but certainly it was
at one time.
Bronwyn Adcock: So you don't think you made a good deal, with hindsight?
Ian Cornelius: A terrible deal! But based on the information available to me, I
really had little choice.
Bronwyn Adcock: Ian Cornelius says that he doesn't recall Ronnie Thomson trying
to convince the Board to peg the area while he was Managing Director. Nor does
he remember being told about the potential for a major gold deposit.
However Ronnie Thomson says he tried extremely hard to convince the company to
take up the project.
Ian Cornelius says the first he knew about the areas was when Ronnie and Newmont
came to see him about selling the information. This was after Day Dawn had
decided not to peg and Ronnie had left Day Dawn. This is what Ian Cornelius
remembers Ronnie saying.
Ian Cornelius: He'd been working for a number of months in connection with the
Paterson Range project, he would like to pursue the project with Newmont and
would I mind selling the data. Of course my immediate response was 'Well, that's
fine, but what are the merits of the area and what's the purchase price being
Bronwyn Adcock: And what did he say the merits of the area were?
Ian Cornelius: He thought that it had quite some potential, but they needed a
lot of work and I can't remember the price being sought but my recollection,
although vague, is that we ended up settling for $150,000, but I'm really not
sure about that.
Bronwyn Adcock: Newmont says it was $15,000.
Ian Cornelius: ( laughs ) Well in that case, they stole it from me anyway at
$150,000, so if they only paid $15,000 then they really got a good deal. When I
say stole it, I mean that not in a literal sense, but it was one of those
situations where the Telfer gold mine became of extraordinarily high value at
some later point in time and at the time that we made the decision to transfer
the data, we either were not in possession of the facts or the facts had not
been revealed to us, or alternatively the facts had been revealed to us and the
prospect was in a very premature, very early stage of development.
Bronwyn Adcock: One of the other possible reasons for Day Dawn looking for quick
cash could have been their financial situation. Day Dawn went into liquidation
in 1974, two years after they sold Newmont the information.
Whatever happened, there's no doubt that the shareholders of Day Dawn Minerals
missed out on an absolute bonanza.
And if this story wasn't twisted enough already, there is one more important
character who feels his story hasn't been told.
It appears that Jean-Paul Turcaud isn't the only person who's been left out of
the history of the Telfer discovery.
MUSIC - Handel's Largo
Bronwyn Adcock: Phillipe Koehn is a Swiss geologist. I went to visit him in his
small flat in suburban Perth, where classical music plays against the backdrop
of chainsaws pruning trees.
Bronwyn Adcock: Why do you like this piece of music?
Phillipe Koehn: It's something to do with my family. my father used to play it.
Bronwyn Adcock: Ask Phillipe Koehn who made the discovery at Telfer and he'll
tell you straight: it was him.
Phillipe Koehn: Well if you ask me, me. Yes.
Bronwyn Adcock: Phillipe Koehn is the first geologist from Day Dawn who actually
went out to the area in the Paterson Ranges that is now Telfer. He also appears
to be the first person who actually discovered gold.
Phillipe Koehn: This is my field notebook.
Bronwyn Adcock: Phillipe still has all his data and maps from this trip. He
showed me the assay results of the samples he took.
Phillipe Koehn: That first lot is for copper zinc, lead, nickel, manganese,
cobalt, silver, antimony and here you have gold and uranium.
Bronwyn Adcock: So that stands for gold, AU, is it?
Phillipe Koehn: Yes.
Bronwyn Adcock: Are those results good?
Phillipe Koehn: Oh, you could say that, yes. This one in particular has got 124
gramme per ton, you know, people are quite happy with 3 gramme a ton.
Bronwyn Adcock: And this was 124.
Phillipe Koehn: Yes. So you can imagine that people got really pretty excited,
Bronwyn Adcock: It was after Phillipe got these results that Day Dawn made a
second trip out to the Paterson Range. This was the trip that Ronnie Thomson
went on. Phillipe wrote a report about his gold find; part of this report was a
recommendation for pegging. The area he recommended pegging was nearly identical
to that eventually pegged by Newmont.
Phillipe Koehn: This is the recommendation and as you can see on that, this is
the actual map which I retrieved in the '90s and it's pretty much the same,
Bronwyn Adcock: So your map here which is from around 1971 recommended pegging,
which is identical to what Newmont eventually pegged?
Phillipe Koehn: That's correct, yes.
Bronwyn Adcock: There is nothing sinister about this. All of Phillipe Koehn's
work, including his recommendations for pegging were the property of Day Dawn,
the company. So when Day Dawn agreed to sell their data on the prospect to
Newmont, Phillipe Koehn's work would have all been part of the package.
While Phillipe Koehn and many of his former colleagues resent the fact that he
was never recognised as the person who discovered gold at Telfer, Phillipe tends
to be philosophical.
Phillipe Koehn: I mean I get more and more philosophical about it, because
really it didn't have such an impact. When you get a divorce by example, it is a
shocking experience, but then you know, you go on, you marry another person and
it's the same thing. You know, it's just one of these instances in life where I
had to change tackle, and the result wasn't catastrophic you know. It would have
been if I had just sat around and said, 'Oh, you know, I missed the opportunity
of my life.'
MUSIC - Handel's Largo
Bronwyn Adcock: By way of an epilogue we'll return to the fish tank analogy. At
the end, there was only one very big fish left. But he was full of unhappy
Today Ronnie Thomson has two rock domes in the Paterson Range named after him.
Phillipe Koehn is looking forward to moving to a quiet spot out of town, and
Jean-Paul Turcaud is still pushing for a Royal Inquiry. Jean-Paul is so upset by
the lack of recognition for his pioneering work that he's renounced his
Australian citizenship and hasn't returned to this country since he left in the
While Newmont says that their pegging of the Telfer site had absolutely nothing
to do with the French prospector, Bob Shepard says he believes the tangled trail
left by Jean-Paul does lead to Newmont.
Bob Shepard: It just goes on and on. Of course Turcaud told a lot of people
about what he had discovered in the Telfer area in the area of Paterson Range,
what we now know as the Telfer mine. And yes, he gave that information to Day
Dawn through his consultants or through himself. Eventually Day Dawn, as a small
exploration company, was involved with Newmont, providing Newmont with
information about the Telfer area. I think Turcaud's quite right to claim that
the information that he provided eventually ended up with Newmont, directly and
Bronwyn Adcock: There is no doubt that the first pioneer to discover the area
that is now the Telfer Gold Mine was Jean-Paul Turcaud. While few people dispute
this, people like Bill Brook say it was Jean-Paul's own actions and nothing
else, that dealt him out of the equation.
Bill Brook: He certainly was hawking the information around quite a few people,
and it was an open secret. He was really putting himself at risk and he dug his
own grave, in many ways. I think it's very sad; he was extremely courageous and
very independent, and with either poor advice or simply not taking that advice
and not pegging the ground, and talking to a lot of people, the information came
out, and finally somebody must have gone up there and done something about it,
and at that stage Jean got dealt out of the equation.
Bob Shepard: I think perhaps Turcaud was a bit naive in his dealings with the
companies. I think he believed that there was a sense of honour that possibly
Bronwyn Adcock: Co-ordinating Producer is Linda McGinness; Research, Jim Mellor;
Technical Production, Colin Preston; reading by David Downer. The Executive
Producer of Background Briefing is Kirsten Garrett.
I'm Bronwyn Adcock.
Desert Gold: The Discovery and Development of Telfer
Author: David Tyrwhitt w/support from Newcrest Mining
Publisher: Louthean Publishing Pty Ltd, West Perth (undated; ca. 1979)
Major section of book 'No two the Same', by A.A. (Bert) Mason, one time
Telfer mine Manager.
Tyrwhitt's book does include his view of Turcaud's role in the discovery process
while Mason neglects to mention Turcaud by name at all in his
The Golden Rule is now available. For
further details email email@example.com
The Golden Rule: He Who Has the Gold Makes the Rules
"THE GOLDEN RULE
Gold and Intrigue in the Desert,
The true story of the discovery of the Telfer gold mine"
Author : Bob Sheppard, President of the Australian Prospectors' Union
Author's contact & web page : www.tnet.com.au/~warrigal/
Order from : Hesperian Press, PO Box 317 Victoria Park, 6979 W.Australia.
AUS 40.00 + post
Published in Perth 15th December 2002
Of all the gold mines in Australia the Telfer is one of the few huge deposits
that appeared to have been found without any input from a prospector. In March
1998 APLA reporter Les Lowe contacted a French prospector Jean-Paul Turcaud, who
claimed he had found the Telfer gold mine. Lowe's article, Who Found Telfer?
Short Shrift - The Truth of Discoveries, challenged the current belief that it
was the corporate miners who found Telfer.
In 1970 a lone French prospector, Jean-Paul
Turcaud, penetrated the unexplored wilderness of Australiaís Great Sandy
Desert searching for minerals. He was astounded by the mineral potential he
believed he had found.
Exhausted and almost penniless he drove out of the desert and into the hottest
town on earth: Marble Bar. He needed help to develop his prospects but the
representatives of the giant American company he first spoke to were not
interested in what he had discovered. Three years later the company announced the
discovery of the mighty Telfer gold mine in the Great Sandy Desert and claimed
they had found the mine without any input from the prospector.
So began decades of acrimony between the French prospector and the mining
company. It was a dispute that reached company boardrooms, parliamentary
chambers, public servantsí offices and eventually the world wide web. The
stakes were high for the Telfer gold mine has yielded millions of ounces of
gold, thousands of tonnes of copper and there is more to come.
Turcaud joined a long list of people who claimed to have found Telfer. For the
trusting prospector came the awareness that in the mining industry there is one
rule: a rule that is superior to all other. It is known as The Golden Rule.
He Who Has The Gold Makes The Rules.
Now, after four years of research by author Bob Sheppard, Hesperian Press and
Warrigal Press are to jointly publish The Golden Rule. The book, which is now
for sale, contains previously unseen photographs, maps and documents and tells
the real story of the discovery of one of Australia's largest gold mines.
Excerpts from The Golden Rule
The Pilbara 1847
... to his unspeakable satisfaction the prospector came upon a reef which his
practised eye at once told him was a veritable gold one. The outcrop upon
investigation proved to be rich beyond his most sanguine expectations. This,
however, was no time to be hampering his movements with mere bullion, so having
taken such measures as he was able to for ensuring the finding of the spot on
some later occasion he packed away a few specimens from the most metallic
portion of the quartz and sorrowfully turned away with but one object now in
view which was if possible to reach the coast to find his ship.
The Pilbara 1954
Although he wasnít a geologist the surveyor Syd Kirkby had some gold
prospecting experience and he remembers the Paterson Range area was nothing like
any gold bearing country he had ever seen before. However he kept his eyes on
the ground. In an amazing revelation in 2000 Kirkby told the author that in the
vicinity of Mt Crofton, some 25 km northeast of Telfer, he may have made an
"I picked up what I thought was a rock with gold in it. I wasnít sure. It
wasnít like any hard rock ore I had ever seen. I asked one or other of the
geologists. I said: 'It looks like gold to me,' and it was pooh- poohed. And I
find that I threw it away, I thought as I was completely wrong whatís the
point, I wonít keep it, Iíll just dump it, and I did. I donít think the
geologists ever had any notion that that part of the world was auriferous."
The East Pilbara 1958
The old ute carrying the two prospectors bounced along the track near Tongolo
Creek. Their prospecting gear rattled around in the back and the passenger held
onto the windowsill to steady himself as each obstacle approached. It was hot
and dusty in the cab and both men were wondering what the hell they were doing
out in the summer heat. They should have been sitting in the cool of the
Nullagine Hotel sipping a cold beer and reliving past glories rather than
shaking their guts out on a track to nowhere. Theyíd heard the old rumours
though, about Treacle Dickís lost show somewhere in the Great Sandy Desert and
they were drawn to the search for the lost bonanza.
It was very hot and the dust hung in the cab causing them to cough through lips
that were clamped on hand rolled cigarettes.
Their heads rocked back and forwards from the motion of the ute, the monotony
and the heat. It was too uncomfortable to talk.
They were suddenly shocked by a loud explosion and they felt a thud like a stick
of gelignite exploding in the back, but it couldnít be! The detonators were
rattling around in a tobacco tin in the glove box! Their sticks of gelignite
could not explode without them.
"What the fuck was that!" exclaimed the driver as the cab filled with
smoke. The ute rolled to a halt and the men jumped out. The petrol tank was on
fire and in moments the vehicle was engulfed by flames. The prospectors only had
time to save their rifle, a billy-can and the waterbag off the roo bar.
They stood dejected, away from the flames. The vehicle burned to a charred heap
on the red, sandy flat.
It wasnít good, they were miles from anywhere and no one else would be silly
enough to be in the area at that time of the year. They would be dead before the
alarm was raised.
They discussed their options: the station, town, the grader driverís camp or
the manganese mine. None of them were very good. They were all too far away for
comfort, but they started walking anyway. Perhaps they could find the grader
driver on the way to the nearest station.
One of the prospectors was a big man, 18 stone or more, and he faded first. He
only lasted a few miles before he was forced to sit in the shade of a stunted
tree. His mate had no option but to leave him with a billy-can of water and a
promise to return with help as soon as he could.
He walked towards the station carrying a waterbag that was soon empty. He could
not find the grader driver but he found a drum of water left on the side of the
track by prospectors for this sort of emergency. Drinking as much as he could
and filling his waterbag he staggered on in the heat, knowing his mate only had
enough water for a day.
The two station hands were returning from the mill-run when they found him
staggering down the track. The prospector had walked 90 miles in the summer heat
and was one mile short of the homestead. He could not tell them how long he had
been walking but he pointed back down the track. 'For Christís sake, donít
worry about me, go get my mate, heís back there,' he said before collapsing.
They took him to the homestead and spread him out on the old shearerís bed on
the verandah, letting the fine mist of a sprinkler cool him as he drank and
recovered enough to tell them what happened.
One of the men drove back down the track, alone, not knowing what to expect.
It was dark when he arrived at the spot and he found the prospector using his
headlights. He was still propped up against the tree, clutching the billy-can
that was half full of water. He had been dead for days and the fluids had oozed
from his body and onto the desert sand. It was as though he was slowly melting.
The station hand was able to lift him into the back of the ute on his own,
something he never would have been able to do a few days before.
The legendary fortune of gold and copper in the Great Sandy Desert had claimed