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Wollongong Coal AGM today

Chairman of parent company on corruption charges, close to a billion dollars in ‘accumulated losses’, and little hope of approval for flagship mine in water catchment.

Civil society groups are gathering outside Wollongong Coal’s AGM in Towradgi today, to protest the damage that this company wants to inflict on Sydney’s drinking water.

“This is a company on the brink of insolvency, seeking approval to undertake one of the riskiest mining operations in NSW under the catchment that supplies drinking water to our largest city” said Nic Clyde, NSW Community Coordinator for Lock the Gate Alliance.

Naveen Jindal, the Chairman of Wollongong Coal’s parent company – Jindal Steel and Power – is facing corruption charges in India. The Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) alleges that Jindal played a “pivotal role” in a “criminal conspiracy”.

Indian media are reporting that the CBI have been given until this Friday – 2 September – by a Delhi court, to file additional charges in the wake of Jindal’s former accountant - Suresh Singhal – turning from accused to star prosecution witness.  

Meanwhile, WLC’s latest annual report indicates that the company may be on the brink of insolvency. The company’s auditors noted that its net liabilities exceeded its assets at the end of its reporting year by $721,699,000. The auditors noted that this indicates, “the existence of a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt about the company's ability to continue as a going concern.”

Wollongong Coal’s plans to expand Russell Vale were criticised by the NSW PAC in its Second Review Report, in large part due to risks to drinking water, coming to the conclusion the project would do more harm than good. The company has launched legal action against the PAC and the Planning Minister seeking to overturn the finding.

“This legal action smacks of desperation. Wollongong Coal know very well that the PAC is unlikely to give them approval to proceed with Russell Vale. Rather than respond to the PAC’s considered, and serious concerns about the extreme risks posed by the Russell Vale expansion, the company is instead trying to have the Review declared invalid, by throwing what little money they have left at a court case” said Clyde.

“Wollongong Coal’s approval to mine coal at Russell Vale has expired. The Department of Planning has ordered the company to remove coal stockpiled on site. It’s time the NSW Government bought back the mining lease, protected our drinking water and put valuable land at Russell Vale to better use,” concluded Clyde.

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