News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: NuCoal mine could lose approval; Tinkler faces insolvent trading claim; and KKR reviews Rio’s Northparkes.

Staff Reporter

NuCoal mine could lose approval, says ICAC head

The head of a New South Wales corruption inquiry has raised the possibility that listed mining company NuCoal Resources could be refused approval for a mine at the centre of the investigation if new investors were aware of the risk this could happen when they bought shares in the company, according to the Australian Financial Review.

NuCoal acquired a lucrative coal exploration licence in the Hunter Valley in early 2010 when it bought Doyles Creek Mining, a private company then chaired by former union leader John Maitland.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating whether then NSW Labor mining minister Ian Macdonald conferred an improper benefit on Maitland and three of his business associates when he granted the licence without a competitive tender in December 2008.

Maitland made millions of dollars from the decision and still holds shares in NuCoal valued at $9 million as at December 2011.

Tinkler faces insolvent trading claim

The liquidator of one of Nathan Tinkler’s private companies, Mulsanne, is now free to pursue him for insolvent trading after the NSW Supreme Court approved a funding agreement by Queensland explorer Blackwood, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The funding agreement will allow the liquidator, Robyn Duggan of Ferrier Hodgson, to sue Tinkler for insolvent trading – which could leave him nearly $30 million out of pocket if successfully prosecuted.

The development is the latest in a string of problems for the embattled mining magnate, who has been fending off his creditors since a downturn in the coal market last year.

KKR reviewing Rio’s Northparkes

Private equity group KKR is believed to be running the ruler over Rio Tinto’s significant stake in Northparkes copper and gold mine in NSW, according to the Australian Financial Review.

KKR is reviewing Rio’s 80% stake in Northparkes, which is believed to be worth approximately $700 million, amid the major miner’s outlined strategy to streamline operations and maximise output from existing assets, according to media reports.

Rio uses Northparkes as a training facility to develop its block-caving technology, which could appeal to other miners worldwide.