New boss leaves horror years, embattled project
A NEW boss set to start at a Bowen Basin mine will likely look forward to putting a horror few years behind him, that came after buying an exploration licence "so tainted by corruption" it was cancelled.
On March 6, Glen Lewis will start work as managing director for Realm Resources - the company that owns the 70% stake in Middlemount's Foxleigh coal mine.
In taking the position, Mr Lewis would then step down from his current position as managing director of NuCoal, which lost big after acquiring an exploration licence from the Hunter Valley's Doyles Creek Mining in 2010.
In 2011 the New South Wales state government commissioned an investigation into the circumstances that led to the initial granting of the licence.
It found, according to Fairfax media, that in 2008 former mining minister Ian Macdonald had granted the lease to former union official and "mate" John Maitland against departmental advice and without tender.
When the licence sold to NuCoal for $94m, Mr Maitland remained a shareholder and was reported to "turn his $150,000 investment into $15m".
NuCoal said it was never aware of the controversy when it bought the licence.
However, in 2013 the commission found that the licence was "so tainted by corruption" it should be cancelled. Weeks later the NSW parliament passed legislation that not only cancelled the licence but denied NuCoal any ability to seek compensation.
But the company was, and remains, determined to be compensated.
Speaking to the Daily Mercury on Thursday, NuCoal chairman Gordon Galt - who is also the chairman of Realm Resources -explained that since the licence cancellation all the company had was "money in the bank and a case to prosecute".
But as all its capital was channelled into this court case, the company had cut as many expenses as possible, which meant most directors were no longer paid. While Mr Lewis had only been working for NuCoal about one day a week, his move to Realm Resources would mean that little bit more money could be put into fighting for compensation.
Mr Lewis would retain a non-executive director position at NuCoal.
"These changes have been made to ensure that the pursuit of compensation for NuCoal following the expropriation of its Doyles Creek Project in January 2014 by the Parliament of NSW will continue for the long term," Mr Galt told shareholders.
"As shareholders are aware, Mr Lewis and Ms Etcell (who will take on CFO and CEO positions after his departure) have been working part time at NuCoal for some two years, and this situation clearly could not continue into the future.
"Going forward, the entire board remains committed to pursuing all possible remedies to obtain compensation for the unjust asset expropriation..."
Taurus Fund Management -where former Wallabies caption Nick Farr-Jones sits as a director - owns an 87.8% stake in Realm Resources.
Realm Resource is a 99.9% shareholder in Middlemount South, which in turn owns the 70% stake in the Foxleigh mine near Middlemount.
It bought this stake from Anglo American in August last year.