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Stanwell ‘Rejecting Billions In Savings’

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The UCG plant near Coolabunia soon after its initial construction (Photo: Cougar Energy)

‘A Fantasy For Wounded Shareholders’

Moreton Resources CEO Jason Elks met with members of the Kingaroy Concerned Citizens Group on Tuesday night.

The KCCG is made up of the local landholders who fiercely opposed the original Cougar Energy UCG project.

Mr Elks said it had been a good meeting and “really productive”.

However, the KCCG later released a statement saying they believed the proposed coal mine by Moreton was “nothing more than a commercial exercise designed to recover shareholder losses after the company share price fell from 21 cents to 0.2 of a cent after the failed UCG trial”.

The KCCG says it has identified “several obvious and compelling deficiencies” in the mine proposal.

These included the absence of any local market for the coal, no export potential, and “the obvious environmental factors of dust, noise, lights, and blasting gases associated with a mine that starts just 3km from Kingaroy”.

“This project is fantasy for wounded shareholders,” KCCG spokesman John Dalton said.

“It’s on some of the most beautiful and productive farm land imaginable. In an age where the Government policy aims to double farm production and food security is considered more important than supporting coal-fired energy, this project is most unlikely to go ahead.

“We think they should just concentrate on rehabilitating the mess at the current UCG site, turn off those lights, and take their losses with them out of town.”

August 21, 2014

Moreton Resources CEO Jason Elks says Stanwell Corporation is rejecting savings of hundreds of millions of dollars – if not billions – by ruling out any future use of Moreton’s coal resource at Coolabunia.

Earlier this month, a Stanwell spokesman told southburnett.com.au: “We are not a potential customer or partner for Moreton Resources, formerly Cougar Energy, and we have communicated this to Moreton Resources.”

Mr Elks said he found this statement “quite odd”, particularly in light of the State Government’s “Stronger Choices” campaign which aims to pay down Queensland debt.

He said he believed Moreton would be able to mine coal cheaper than what can be sourced from the Meandu mine, even taking into account that Stanwell already owns this resource.

Mr Elks said he had spoken to Stanwell CEO Richard Van Breda who had told him “no at any cost” and “no matter how great the saving”.

“The government is saying they are going to sell assets but they are passing up hundreds of millions of dollars of savings,” Mr Elks said.

Mr Elks said Moreton had received some “nasty legal letters” from Stanwell but wasn’t interested in getting into a “bun fight” with the corporation.

However, he suggested the differential in cost could be up to $10/tonne, which could save any new owner of the Tarong power stations up to $30 million a year.

“We are extremely confident about our maths and we can do it cheaper than Stanwell,” he said.

“Why wouldn’t someone be interested in saving money?”

Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington told southburnett.com.au that Stanwell’s decision was “purely an operational matter” for the corporation.

* * *

Mr Elks sought to reassure landholders concerned about the continuing presence of infrastructure on the site left over from Cougar Energy’s failed underground coal gasification project.

He said Moreton aimed to have the above ground infrastructure removed from the site before Christmas.

Mr Elks said Moreton had knocked back an offer from the “UCG industry” to purchase the entire plant because the restructured company was determined to not have anything to do in future with UCG.  He said the equipment would probably be sold for scrap.

However some ancilliary equipment, such as forklifts, were expected to be sold to a South Burnett buyer.

Moreton also plans to approach local land owners about the future of the various water monitoring wells.

Mr Elks said if they wanted to use them, they would be left open, otherwise they would be capped with concrete.

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3 Responses to Stanwell ‘Rejecting Billions In Savings’

  1. Bin There

    “Why wouldn’t someone be interested in saving money?”…..maybe, just maybe Stanwell Corporation is displaying a level of social conscience and understands the huge negative impact a coalmine at Coolabunia would have on the local community. Or maybe I’m just dreaming. I live in hope that sanity prevails.

  2. Grant Newson

    The standard concerns and issues have been raised by the KCCG. As with any mining development, the impacts to surrounding area and people are the main concern. We all know that Stanwell has air quality/dust monitors active around the Meandu mine district. I can guarantee that coal dust, along with other contaminants from Stanwell, are impacting residents as we speak, Kingaroy not excluded.

    Why would Stanwell reject the offer of saving money? Maybe the LNP is gearing up to sell the operation as a whole? Maybe Stanwell doesn’t want the stigma attached to the Cougar failure or just don’t want or need to be reliant on an external source of coal? Maybe they see the writing on the wall for coal as an outdated fossil fuel?

    With the mass health problems facing people at Jondaryan due to the proximity of coal, what do the residents of Kingaroy think will happen to air quality with an open cut coal mine just a few klms from their home? The thought of health impacts to their children alone should be enough. There will be blasting, 24hr operations of heavy machinery removing layers of dirt and continuing with the extraction of coal. There needs to be long term independent air quality testing done in Kingaroy now. A base line of data to compare what impact and changes happen if any development occurs must be done.

    The entire water table in that area will be devastated. The incursion from the UCG debacle will dwindle in comparison to the impact any open cut mine will have. The local farms will not be able to work alongside this mining industry. This has been proven many times over in each and every area where the promise of compatibility and companion working has been made, but can never be delivered.

    Of course I personally believe that the fossil fuel industry is heading for obscurity and any investment of funding will be a waste and people will lose their money – especially given the operational history of Cougar (now called Moreton Resources).

    On a relevant note, everyone must be reminded that the LNP is currently trying to remove the ability for people to object to this type of development. If these changes are passed, you won’t be able to have a say about any of your concerns.

  3. B.Dobbs

    This project is within ten klms of Kingaroy and surrounding districts. To date it does not appear that residents have been either notified of this decision, nor has an enviromental paper been published. Ten klm does not seem a safe enough distance for noise and dust drift, but is this a trade off by authorities? Smells like it.