The results of the strategic regional land use policy audit, which will be announced in November, are intended to expose any approvals by the previous NSW Labor government that did not follow due process.
NuCoal managing director Glen Lewis said: “NuCoal supports the Coalition’s proposed review of exploration licences and its recently announced strategic regional land use policy.
“We believe the policy has the potential to result in appropriate strategic regional land use plans which can minimise conflicts between mining and our communities and we are pleased that the Coalition has consulted widely to make this matter a priority.
“However, the recent government update on the industry-wide EL review being undertaken across NSW indicated the results would not be announced until November 2011.
“NuCoal continues to consult with the NSW government on the EL audit process across the coal seam gas and coal sectors and will advise the market when further clarity is available.”
Resources and Energy Minister Chris Hartcher said this week that the audit would be intensive and any breaches of process would be made public.
“Unfortunately the previous government used to charge hundreds of millions of dollars for exploration licenses and that created an expectation that once you found it you would get the mining lease,” he told ILN at the NSW Minerals Council Safety Conference in the Hunter Valley.
“When it comes to a mining lease, you’ve got to pay the government and you’ve got to adhere to strict requirements.”
Lewis said NuCoal took the conditions of its EL “very seriously” and the company had fully complied with its obligations.
“In addition, our compliance with the current comprehensive EL conditions has been independently assessed by an independent law firm every three months since August 2010, in accordance with NuCoal’s internal compliance regime, and this practice will continue indefinitely,” he said.
Ongoing drilling at the Doyles Creek project is expected to lead to an updated resource statement in August from its current total JORC-compliant 497.7 million tonnes.
NuCoal said it planned to release another resource update in December and publish its port allocation results following nominations in August.
The company has also established a community foundation to distribute some 5% of the potential project profits after tax back to local communities and “strategic partners”. It is estimated the foundation funds will total more than $100 million over the life of the mine based on current coal prices.
“In addition, there will be many indirect benefits generated from employment of up to 350 direct staff at the operation, increased economic activity in the region and the royalties and taxes produced from operations which is forecast to exceed $2 billion over a proposed 30-year period,” Lewis said.