Wollongong Coal found guilty, fined $40k over debts

PAY THE RENT: A Wollongong Coal shipment being loaded at the Port Kembla Coal Terminal.
PAY THE RENT: A Wollongong Coal shipment being loaded at the Port Kembla Coal Terminal.

Wollongong Coal has been convicted in court over its failures to pay debts to the NSW Government, with the Resources Regulator making clear it is sending a message.

The miner was fined $40,000 in the Local Court in Sydney on Wednesday after two of its companies were convicted on charges over failing to pay more than $288,000 in debts.

The decision will be another blow to Wollongong Coal’s attempts to see off an investigation into whether it is a “fit and proper person” to hold a mining licence.

The money owed related to fees and levies charged to the two Wollongong Coal subsidiary companies under the NSW Mining Act.

The Resource Regulator took the miner to court even after it had eventually paid up, with chief compliance officer Anthony Keon explaining the miner’s actions had not been up to the standard expected.

“Holding an authorisation to extract the State’s resources carries with it strict obligations,” Mr Keon said. 

“The Government and community expects that these obligations are strictly adhered to and the Resources Regulator will take action to ensure that this is the case.

“While the required payments were ultimately made, the Resources Regulator took escalated enforcement action due to ongoing and repeated failures to meet legislative requirements.”

The debts were:

  • Wollongong Coal’s failure to pay required rents and levies totalling $25,153.33 by June 24, 2016.
  • Wongawilli Coal’s failure to pay rent and levies totalling $140,250.50 by September 24, 2016.
  • Wongawilli Coal’s failure to pay required rents and levies totalling $122,941.00 by October 24, 2016.

The Court convicted the companies and ordered them to pay a total of $11,000 in fines and more than $28,000 to cover the Resources Regulator’s legal fees. The maximum penalty for each offence is $11,000 for a corporation and $5,500 for an individual.

Wollongong Coal had yet to inform investors of the decision via the stock exchange.