High Court rules for corrupt coal licences to stay cancelled

Two coal mining companies have lost High Court bids to have their exploration licences reinstated after they were found to be corrupt by an ICAC inquiry.

The New South Wales Government cancelled three mining licences last year after the ICAC found former mining minister Ian Macdonald and a number of associates acted corruptly when issuing the tenements.

The quashed exploration tenements include NuCoal’s Doyles Creek and Cascade Coal’s Mt Penny and Glendon Brook licences.

Both companies argued against the validity of the Mining Amendment Act which was ushered in by the NSW Government last January in order to cancel the licences.

Under the special legislation both companies will be forced to provide the State Government with all exploration data on the tenements and no compensation will be awarded.

The companies argued that the NSW Parliament strayed outside its powers by passing laws.

However the High Court found there was no case to answer, stating that NSW was acting within its power by cancelling the licences.

The court ordered the companies to pay the state of NSW’s legal costs.

Acting Premier Troy Grant said the court decision had put an end to the saga.

"The cancellation of these licenses was recommended by the ICAC," Grant said.

"The ICAC found these licences were tainted by corruption involving former Labor ministers Ian Macdonald and Eddie Obeid.

"This decision ensures the ongoing integrity of our resource allocation process."

Nucoal’s chairman Gordon Golt said the company was also seeking “"legal redress for our innocent shareholders" through a NSW Supreme Court judicial review.

"A decision is pending and we note that the judicial review canvasses legal arguments quite separate to those considered by the High Court," Galt said.

"Naturally we are disappointed not to have prevailed in the High Court, however our actions in the Supreme Court of NSW and under the US‐Australia Free Trade Agreement continue."

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