South Korean power company KEPCO, proposing to build a new coal mine in the National Trust listed Bylong Valley which hosts some of NSW’s richest agricultural land, is being prosecuted by the NSW Department of Industry for providing false photographs of a local resident’s property to support an exploration application (“Korean mine subsidiary Kepco Bylong Australia on fraud charge”, Newcastle Herald, today).
Both the false and accurate photographs, and a detailed media backgrounder about the proposed mine, are available on request.
Bylong Valley Protection Alliance Secretary, Mr Craig Shaw, owner of the property in question, said: “This legal action against KEPCO is welcome. KEPCO already has a worrying history of dodgy behaviour, both in Australia and overseas, and providing false photographs to gain approvals provides new cause for concern.
“If the allegations are proven, the public is entitled to ask whether this is just the tip of the iceberg. What other misrepresentations has KEPCO made for the sake of expediency?” Mr Shaw said.
The Division of Resources and Energy of the NSW Department of Industry commenced proceedings against KEPCO Bylong (Australia) and its exploration manager, Worley Parsons Services, on Tuesday 29 March for knowingly providing “false or misleading” information (under s378C NSW Mining Act 1992), after a 9 month investigation. The court action follows a complaint from Mr Craig Shaw that the photographs in KEPCO’s application - submitted to show where six drilling sites would be located - were not of his property, some of which has steep, rocky terrain. KEPCO had previously acknowledged that the difficult terrain may require helicopters to provide access and enable drilling.
“This project is destined to destroy prime farming land and precious groundwater. For the NSW government to give the green light to a company with such a dubious reputation is dangerous indeed,” Mr Shaw said.
Mr Shaw added that, had it not been for him insisting on seeing KEPCO’s exploration application and scrutinising the detail, the Department may well have simply accepted KEPCO and Worley Parson’s declaration that the information provided was “true and correct”.
“If we had not been watching like hawks KEPCO’s deception may well have been missed by the Department. It just goes to show how open to abuse the entire system of mining approvals is in NSW,” Mr Shaw said.
After a mention in the Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday, Mr Shaw understands the matter had now been adjourned until 29th April and that KEPCO and Worley Parsons are yet to enter a plea.
Previous media reports:
High quality stills of the Bylong Valley and Craig Shaw are available for use here.
BACKGROUND TO KEPCO’S RECORD
Key examples include:
- In Korea: Falsified test certificates for atomic reactor parts. Also faced protests, including clashes with up to 2,000 riot police, because of construction of high-voltage transmission line towers.
- In the Philippines: Dumped coal ash near homes, playgrounds and rivers. Several KEPCO coal ash dump sites failed to conform to international safety standards.
- In Australia: Breached intellectual property attempting to reverse engineer cheap coal briquettes produced by Boutique Coal in Australia.