News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: Nucoal calls for Macdonald licence safeguards; business takes aim at MRRT repeal; and Rio prepares to repatriate foreign workers at Mozambique Coal.

Lou Caruana

Nucoal calls for Macdonald licence safeguards

The NSW government has been urged to pass laws to protect investors in coal mines tainted by former minister Ian Macdonald, just as it has moved a bill designed to save a $2 billion gold mine in legal trouble because of alleged fraud on the corrupt minister’s watch, according to the Australian Financial Review.

NSW last week introduced a bill that would safeguard Newcrest’s $2 billion Cadia project against legal action over alleged fraud and impropriety in the allocation of its mining licence in 2009, during Macdonald’s reign.

The legislation has been attacked by rival miner Gold and Copper Resources, which brought the legal action against Newcrest and the NSW government over the licenses.

But Gordon Galt, chairman of Nucoal, which has been caught up in the Independent Commission Against Corruption findings, says NSW may have to legislate again to protect investors like him.

“If you look at the Cadia situation, the government decided it’s so complicated, he will just have to make a law and that’s it,” Galt said.

Business takes aim at MRRT repeal

A top business group has attacked Tony Abbott's plans to scrap nearly $4 billion in tax concessions for mainly small businesses as part of the axing of the mining tax, arguing that it will permanently increase compliance costs and cut investment returns at a time when business is struggling, according to The Australian.

The Australian Industry Group has told the government that its plans to reduce the thresholds available under the small business asset write-off regime, from $6500 to $1000, will “add complexity and compliance costs for eligible small businesses”

Rio prepares to repatriate foreign workers at Mozambique Coal

Rio Tinto is making arrangements for the family members of foreign employees of its Mozambique coal operation to return home as instability in the region escalates, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The development comes after Rio hired UBS to sell all or part of Rio Tinto Mozambique Coal, which includes the 100% ownership of the Zambeze Project and Tete East Project.

A Rio Tinto spokesman confirmed it was organising “dependent family members” of its foreign employees to return to their “home countries temporarily”. Coal operations at the site have not been affected.

Bloomberg reported the move related to military tensions in the region.