NuCoal halts to assess Doyles Creek report
The coal explorer at the centre of the corruption watchdog's latest report into the activities of former NSW mines minister Ian Macdonald will have to wait several months before the status of its exploration leases are clarified.
NuCoal Resources acquired control of the Doyles Creek tenement area in the Hunter Valley from interests associated with former union boss John Maitland and banker John Poole, and others, in 2010.
This was after the period subject to the report released on Friday by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
"The transaction was undertaken in good faith," NuCoal chairman Gordon Galt said. "There is no suggestion that Nucoal has done anything wrong or is implicated in any way in the actions and matters the commissioner has addressed in his report.
"NuCoal is an innocent party in this affair ... NuCoal shareholders have suffered a considerable loss of shareholder value as a direct result of the inquiry."
NuCoal shares were suspended from trading on the sharemarket on Friday, as directors sought advice on the latest report from ICAC. ICAC is to release a further report later in the year which will address the status of the leases held by NuCoal and whether they should revert to the Crown, along with related issues.
In its report, ICAC said it found that in the course of the application for the original exploration leases, Mr Maitland, and associates Craig Ransley and Mr Poole, had made false or misleading statements to the NSW Department of Primary Industries about matters such as the size of the coal resource at Doyles Creek, the identity of the institutions that had entered into a partnership with the company in relation to the operation of a training mine at the site, and the nature of those partnerships.
As a result, ICAC has found that each of Mr Maitland, Mr Ransley and Mr Poole had engaged in corrupt conduct relating to false or misleading statements made to the Department of Primary Industries.
Consequently, ICAC said on Friday, consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions for prosecuting Mr Macdonald for misconduct in public office, with Mr Maitland, Mr Ransley and Mr Poole to face offences relating to making and publishing false or misleading statements to the DPI.
Exploration by NuCoal estimates that the Doyles Creek tenement has about 100 million tonnes of recoverable coking coal.
Additionally, the company is seeking to access tenements to the north of Doyles Creek which would support a larger operation.
Doyles Creek could support a 5 million-tonne-a-year operation, and backers include Mitsui Matsushima, a long-established coal miner in Japan that is also an investor in the nearby Liddell Mine.