Charities and pre-school winners in Wollongong Coal deal

Wollongong Coal, which runs the Russell Vale mine (above) has struck a deal with the NSW Resources Regulator to stop court action over alleged debts. Picture: Quentin Jones
Wollongong Coal, which runs the Russell Vale mine (above) has struck a deal with the NSW Resources Regulator to stop court action over alleged debts. Picture: Quentin Jones

Illawarra charities and a non-profit preschool will be the surprise winners in a deal struck by Wollongong Coal in response to alleged unpaid debts.

The deal struck with the Resources Regulator will also see the miner putting up a $300,000 guarantee to ensure it continues to pay fees it owes to the NSW government.

Wollongong Coal was in hot water in March this year when the Resources Regulator began legal proceedings over Wollongong Coal alleged failure to pay annual rental fees and administrative levies to the government.

The coal miner had previously been convicted in court over failure to pay more than $288,000 in debts, though it did appeal that decision.

A spokesman for Wollongong Coal said while there were delays in paying 2016 and 2017 fees there was no outstanding amount.

The fees for 2018 were up to date, the spokesman said.

However, a statement from the NSW Resources Regulator seemed to tell a different story.

“The exact amounts owed for the 2018 rents and levies is currently being calculated by the Regulator, and is estimated to be around $640,000,” a spokesman said.

“Under the enforceable undertaking agreement, this amount must be paid by July 5, 2018.”

In order to give the government “confidence” that future fees would be paid on time, Wollongong Coal offered a deal which included the $300,000 bank guarantee.

The deal also requires the miner pay future fees and levies a year in advance through to 2022.

One big winner out of the deal is the Little School preschool located near Wollongong Coal’s Wongawilli mine.

According to the regulator part of the deal will see Wollongong Coal lease “property to Little School Preschool Inc for $1 per annum, reduced from $26,000 per annum, until January 1, 2023”.

The deal also requires Wollongong Coal to make two $5000 donations to local charities each year until 2023.

NSW Resources Regulator Chief Compliance Officer, Anthony Keon said it accepted the deal because it provided for better outcomes than expected via the prosecution.

“The undertaking is considered significant with the 12-month advance payment on authorisation fees for the next five years, underpinned by the provision of a bank guarantee of $300,000, helping to ensure ongoing and future compliance,” Mr Keon said.

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