Empire Resources is facing yet another board spill as a major backer demands the troubled gold miner call a meeting to vote out the directors.

Michael Ruane, who holds a stake of almost 9 per cent, through two of his associated companies – Tyson Resources and Kesli Chemicals – has served Empire with a “249D” notice to give shareholders the opportunity to vote out the four-director board.

Empire (ASX:ERL) shares jumped 8.3 per cent to 1.3c on the news.

Mr Ruane has been progressively increasing his stake in Empire since June, when he owned just over 5 per cent.

He has put forward himself, Jeremy Atkinson and Peter Hayden for nomination as directors to replace managing director David Sargeant and directors Lee Christensen, Christopher Banasik and Brett Fraser.

Mr Ruane, who is also a director of potash explorer Reward Minerals (ASX:RWD), declined to comment on the matter when contacted by Stockhead.

Empire Resources (ASX:ERL) shares have slumped from a high of 2.9c to a low of 1.2c in the past 12 months.
Empire Resources (ASX:ERL) shares have slumped from a high of 2.9c to a low of 1.2c in the past 12 months.

Empire has no idea why Mr Ruane wants to take control of the company.

“I’m not quite sure what his motivation is,” Mr Sargeant told Stockhead. “I tried to ask him that the other day but I didn’t get it. I’m not sure where it’s going to end up.”

Empire told investors today that it will determine whether the notice to call a general meeting is valid and if it is will take steps to hold a general meeting within two months.

Earlier this year, Empire faced a board spill attempt by Brimstone Resources – the company’s partner in the Penny’s Find gold mine northeast of Kalgoorlie.

Brimstone owed Empire $1.1 million and the pair went through a court battle as Empire tried to recoup the cash by taking control of Brimstone’s 40 per cent stake in Penny’s Find.

Empire won the court stoush and following “productive discussions” that resulted in the appointment of Mr Fraser and Mr Banasik and the resignation of Adrian Jessup, Brimstone dropped its board spill attempt.