NSW government terminates corrupt exploration licences

Passing legislation on Thursday, the New South Wales Government has cancelled three corrupt mining licences.

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

“The ICAC found these licences were tainted by corruption involving former Labor Ministers Ian Macdonald and Eddie Obeid,” NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell said.

Under the special legislation the companies will be forced to provide the State Government with all exploration data on the tenements.

“The legislation requires all exploration data on the tenements to be provided to the NSW Government and provide that the licence holders will remain responsible for any necessary rehabilitation works on the sites,” O’Farrell said.

He added that the government has no intention of re-releasing the sites and no compensation will be awarded.

However the legislation allows for a range of fees to be refunded including application fees and annual fees.

According to the SMH the government will be refunding $2.6 million in fees to the miners.

The government introduced the bill in November, giving it the power to cancel coal licences tainted with corruption.

Acting on recommendations from the corruption watchdog O’Farrell last week announced the three exploration licences would be revoked.

In a statement Cascade Coal said the legislation commandeers its legal rights.

“The Government is clearly driven by political expedience and seeks to totally usurp the legal rights of innocent parties and override existing judicial appeals,” the company said.

It said cancelling exploration licences, denying compensation and forcing exploration data to be handed over is an “extraordinary and unprecedented action by the NSW Government”.

“This legislative action to confiscate private property rights and to deny access to judicial process is not based on a judicial determination of any kind or even on relevant ICAC findings but simply on Parliament “being satisfied”… that the grant of licences were tainted by serious corruption,” it stated.

Cascade said it will be reviewing the legislation and is prepared to pursue all available actions to protect its legal rights.

A NuCoal spokesperson told Australian Mining the company’s lawyers are still considering the legislation.

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