In a statement to shareholders released yesterday, NuCoal chairman Gordon Galt said he wanted to clarify media reports concerning this decision by the state government.
On November 11 NuCoal was made aware that NSW resources and energy minister Chris Hartcher had introduced a resolution to the Parliament to formally refer the awarding of EL 7270, the Doyles Creek tenement, to the ICAC.
The decision was made, after an independent report undertaken by law firm Clayton Utz examined the efficacy and decision making process related to the awarding of the exploration license by former mineral resources minister Ian Macdonald on December 24 2008.
Macdonald resigned in June 2010 in controversial circumstances.
The report concluded there was “a circumstantial case of wrongdoing and breach of public trust” in the allocation of the Doyles Creek tenement.
NuCoal said it only became aware of Hartcher’s decision via his communication
advisers and had still not received any formal clarification on the move by the minister or the government.
“At this stage, the only information we have regarding the scope of the ICAC inquiry is what is on the public record … we are endeavoring to obtain more information about the specific scope and timing of the inquiry and we will update shareholders as this comes to hand,” Galt said.
Despite a lack of information, Galt said he would fully support a possible investigation into the Doyles Creek exploration license.
“NuCoal will of course cooperate fully with the proposed inquiry into the granting of EL 7270 if requested,” Galt said.
“We strongly believe it is in the interests of our shareholders that the ICAC
inquiry is conducted in as timely a manner as possible and that the true facts are fully disclosed and presented to all as they become available.
“In the meanwhile, in accordance with our stated aims of becoming a serious coal miner in NSW, we will continue with our exploration programs and environmental assessments as planned,” he said.
NuCoal has 100% ownership of the Doyles Creek project after it purchased it from Doyles Creek Mining last year.
But NuCoal’s plans to develop a longwall mine with a 30-year mine life have already received strong opposition from the local community.
The hopeful coal developer will head to the NSW Land and Environment Court on November 29 to try to stop local farmers Ian and Robyn Moore, who are threatening to ban exploration drilling from taking place on their land at Jerry’s Plains.
The community backlash has not dented NuCoal’s confidence in the project, with Galt adding he is hopeful the mine will still go ahead.
“NuCoal has added an enormous amount of value to this project and has at all times acted responsibly and with full disclosure, and it will be to the benefit of all stakeholders that we intend to establish a productive coal mine and training school at the Doyles Creek project area in accordance with the conditions of the EL which we purchased in good faith,” he said.
NuCoal is hoping to lodge a preliminary environmental assessment for Doyles Creek by the end of the year.