Muswellbrook fears for rehab of Dartbrook coal mine

Nathan Tinkler’s bankruptcy has sparked new fears about the State’s exposure to rehabilitation liabilities for the Dartbrook Coal Mine.

Tinkler’s Australian Pacific Coal (APC) struck a deal for Anglo American’s 88 per cent share of the mothballed Dartbrook mine late last year, however the CEO and managing director has been forced to stand down this week following a federal bankruptcy ruling, backdated to July last year.

Newcastle Herald reported that in January the Muswellbrook Shire Council  general manager Steve McDonald asked the NSW Auditor-General’s office to investigate the potential exposure to rehabilitation costs for the mine.

“Muswellbrook Shire Council is concerned that in many instances the liability associated with the rehabilitation of mining land in its local government area exceeds the security deposits paid,” McDonald wrote.

Local mayor Martin Rush said there was growing community concern about the risk of rehabilitation costs falling to taxpayers in the event that small mine operators like APC were unable to cover those expenses.

“Multinational mining companies that made very forceful commitments to meet rehabilitation obligations may choose to sell their operations to operators who don’t have the same capacity to meet their commitments, or the same risk to their brand if they fail to meet their rehabilitation obligations,” Rush said.

“Clearly we don’t want to be in the position where we end up fighting the state government to deliver the rehabilitation commitments it approved because it can’t get the money from idled mine operators.”

Australian Mining has contacted APC for comment, however media representation based in Singapore has failed to answer questions with their response.

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