Explorer and aspiring potash producer Reward Minerals Ltd has reached what is being touted as a ground-breaking native title deal to potentially give the Central Western Desert's Martu people more than 10 per cent of the company.Shares in Reward jumped 25 per cent today, to hit $1.25, giving it a market capitalisation of about $67 million.The equity component of the deal involves options to be issued at a deep discount to Reward's current share price if the company succeeds in its plan to develop the Lake Disappointment potash project.Reward said that subject to the appropriate approvals being obtained for the development, the terms of the deal included 7 million unlisted options exercisable at 50 cents with an expiry date of four years from issue, representing 10.31 per cent of the fully diluted capital of the company.The deal, through which Reward hopes to accelerate its development, also provides for a cash component and royalties.While the deal is yet to be finalised, sources close to the arrangements claim it is the first time such an equity arrangement has come to fruition and further reinforces the strength of the Martu people's native title claims.Reward's announcement comes more six months after negotiations with the Martu reached an impasse, believed to be over their demand for an equity stake."While precise wording of terms of the agreement remain to be finalised, Reward Minerals is confident the details will be completed in an amicable and timely manner," Reward managing director Michael Ruane said in an announcement."Final approvals will require site specific archaeological and ethnographic Aboriginal heritage surveys, as well as statutory approvals.""The negotiating parties are of the belief that the resultant agreement represents a win-win situation for all concerned."In a release on behalf of the Martu people, their representatives said the deal was agreed by a full community meeting. "We believe the presence of a generous indigenous equity component as part of the transaction is the way of the future in mining negotiations," the representatives said in a statement."Reward has offered equity in a bid to align the future interests of both parties - an innovative strategy which also acknowledges the strength of Martu rights."The Martu have been represented in their negotiations by representatives of The Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation and Indigenous Energy Pty Ltd, a business established 15 months ago by former Woodside Petroleum Ltd and Carnegie Wylie executive Joe Procter.Mr Procter was one of the first indigenous Australians to complete an MBA and has also been on the board of the National Indigenous Council.
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