Empire Resources says a group of rebel shareholders attempting to spill the board has ties to its joint venture partner, which owes the West Australian gold miner over $1 million.

Earlier this week, the company (ASX:ERL) received a demand from a group of 12 shareholders who collectively hold a 5 per cent stake for Empire to call a meeting to vote out the current three-director board.

Empire chairman Lee Christensen said 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.

“Brimstone owes ERL approximately $1.1 million for unfunded contributions and interest relating to development costs for the Penny’s Find mine,” Mr Christensen said in a letter to shareholders on Thursday, which has been publicly released as an ASX announcement.

Payment of the debt is due by June 6.

In his letter to shareholders, Mr Christensen labelled the move “opportunistic for the Brimstone associated interests only”.

Empire Resources shares over the past year (ASX:ERL).
Empire Resources shares over the past year (ASX:ERL).

“[The] board – which has transparently, confidently and publicly transformed the company from gold explorer to gold miner – believes this action seeking a new board, is self-focused and threatens only to erode Empire’s share price.”

Stockhead is seeking comment from Brimstone Resources.