Junior gold producer Empire Resources has called for a “total rejection” by shareholders of a spill motion that is being put forward at an upcoming general meeting.

The July 24 meeting was called after Empire (ASX:ERL) received a notice from a group of 12 shareholders who collectively hold a 5 per cent stake that want to vote out the current three-director board.

Paul Williams and Peter McDonald are associated with some of the shareholders and are also the directors of Brimstone Resources – the company’s partner in the Penny’s Find gold mine northeast of Kalgoorlie.

Empire chairman Lee Christensen said in a letter to shareholders last Friday that the rebel shareholder group have “little forward vision for Empire other than to revert, at best, it to being a minerals explorer”.

“This is a substantial stepdown from the company’s achievements to make the first, if at times challenging, in-roads into mining – a sector that attracts far more intensive interest from equity markets than applies to exploration,” he said.

Mr Christenson said the prospect of underground mining at Penny’s Find offers a more secure, longer term future for Empire.

Initial open-pit mining has been completed at Penny’s Find and Empire now needs to make a final investment decision on whether the mine will make the transition to an underground operation.

Empire had a win against Brimstone in the Western Australian Supreme Court last week after it was told it could go ahead and take action to recover the roughly $1 million it was owed by its joint venture partner.

Brimstone owns a 40 per cent stake in Penny’s Find and Empire has appointed a receiver to take back full control of the operation.

While managing director David Sargeant does not know how the battle for control of the Empire board will play out, he told Stockhead following the legal win last week that shareholders had expressed their support for the current directors.