A 2.7 Billion dollar lawsuit has been levelled at the Victorian state government for moving to ban Coal Seam Gas (CSG) mining and hydraulic fracturing or Fracking. A writ seeking damages was lodged at the Supreme Court on the 6th of December by Lakes Oil, citing “significant losses to the company and its 11,000 longstanding shareholders.’’, as reason behind the large civil suit. One of those shareholders is Gina Hancock’s mining company Hancock Prospecting with a 20% share of Lakes Oil. The company is claiming for $92 Million in past spending and 2.65 Billion in lost future revenue.
The news has been met with consternation amongst mining consortiums Australia wide, with Shell Australia’s managing director Andrew Smith commenting that:
“Successive state governments, both Labor and Coalition, in Victoria and NSW have stifled the development of new gas supply, despite scientific evidence it can be safely extracted,’’
Andrew Smith is certainly right about one thing in that statement, both Labor and Liberal Coalition governments have slowed down the headlong rush from mining companies to Frack farmlands Australia wide.
In Victoria the moratorium on CSG and Fracking was first imposed in 2012 by the then Liberal Coalition Napthine government. At that time there was a call for more testing on the controversial mining technique.
Over the intervening years protests have raged in every state, from Western Australia to far north Queensland and South Australia. City and country people who rarely see eye to eye on environmental issues were united against Fracking. Populist media figures generally associated with the conservative right such as Alan Jones have used their public pulpits to denounce the practice of Fracking. In a vehement oratory at the Australian Press Club Alan Jones unleashed his vitriol in a way few on the left could believe if there were no evidence to support it.
Mining companies have been vituperative in their pursuit of restitution not only in Australia, but world wide as governments are legislating against Coal Seam Gas mining exploration. Under ISDS (Investor-state dispute settlement) clauses signed in
most mining and exploratory mining contracts it is within the rights of the corporation to sue a country that limits its sphere of activity. These cases are often resolved in one of two ISDS tribunals run by the World Bank and the UN and have seen payouts as large as 1.7 Billion(plus interest) awarded to Occidental Petroleum company at the expense of the Republic of Ecuador for terminating a mining contract.
Lone Pine Resources mining company is suing Canada for $118 million in costs and lost revenue. The exploration and mining there has caused the world’s first recorded Fracking ‘Quake in 2015. The quake had a magnitude of 4.4 and was followed by a large earthquake with a magnitude of 4.8 in January of 2016. Read more @ Desmog.Ca
The University of Calgary study shows conclusively that CSG and Fracking mining practices do cause earthquakes in fracking areas, some of the mining operations had to halt due to the damage the earthquakes caused to their base of operations. Yet mining proponents such as Andrew Smith discount such evidence in pursuit of profits.
Lakes Oil CEO Roland Sleeman said:
“We have to look after our interests and the interests of our 11,000 shareholders, 6000 of whom are based in Victoria. There is not a day that goes by that one of them doesn’t contact me and say you have got to do something.”
The governments of Australia have a responsibility to millions of Australians who rely on fresh water and clean food, to ensure that these natural resources are protected and maintained for future generations and not destroyed in mere years for short term profit and gain by a greedy few.
What do you think. Should the rights of a few thousand shareholders trump those of millions of Australian? Could this be a case for a personal injury lawyer Melbourne? Visit the website to learn more about personal injury law