'Legalised theft': Workers devastated by mine collapse
AFTER months of uncertainty an embattled central Queensland miner and part-owner of Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal was placed into liquidation today.
Administrators PPB Advisory confirmed this afternoon creditors voted that all five companies in the Caledon Coal Group (Caledon Coal Pty Ltd, CC Pty Ltd, Guangdong Rising (Australia) Pty Ltd, Blackwater Coal Pty Ltd and Bowen Basin Pastoral Company) be placed in liquidation.
But the decision gave no reassurance to former underground coal mine Cook Colliery workers, still expected to receive 52 cents in the dollar of their entitlements.
Caledon Coal Group, owned by Chinese-state entity Guangdong Rising Asset Management (GRAM), was placed in administration earlier this year with a debt of about $4 billion.
It owes employees $22 million and WICET more than $24 million.
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union representative Glenn Power described the outcome as "pretty devastating" for the more-than 200 workers who lost their jobs at the Cook Colliery mine.
The district vice-president of the mining and energy division said their pleas for the blue collar workers to receive their full entitlements remained unsuccessful.
Meanwhile the liquidation places the five remaining miner owners of Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal in a tougher position as they struggle to repay almost $4 billion to 19 lenders.
Still "on edge" and "worked up" five hours after yesterday's creditors meeting, Mr Power said GRAM's behaviour proved the need for urgent change to Australia's industrial laws.
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"Someone at today's meeting described it as legalised theft, and that's exactly what it is," he said.
"It's absolutely appalling that we can live in a country that allows foreign companies to do this.
"Meanwhile these foreign companies just waddle off, away they go offshore and they're untouched, they're unscathed."
The union representative who has attended most creditors meetings said there was an hour-long discussion before it was decided to liquidate all five companies.
He said it could take six weeks or longer for workers to receive financial entitlements.
PPB Advisory is negotiating with potential buyers, but to date have been unsuccessful, with eight "highly conditional" offers made. The July 20 creditors report said there was interest from Glencore in the Cook Colliery mining sub-lease.
CALEDON Coal, the owner of Cook Colliery mine and a part-owner of Wiggins Island Coal Export terminal was placed into liquidation today.
Administrators PPB Advisory confirmed this afternoon that all five companies in the Caledon Coal Group (Caledon Coal Pty Ltd), CC Pty Ltd, Guangdong Rising (Australia) Pty Ltd, Blackwater Coal Pty Ltd and Bowen Basin Pastoral Company) were placed into liquidation.
The Cook Colliery mine owner and Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal part-owner was placed into administration earlier this year with a debt of about $4billion.
Two of the main reasons for the administration were the significant water damage to the mine's longwall on March 7 and ongoing payments for its share in owning WICET.
A request for a 45-day extension earlier this month for the next meeting was rejected by creditors.
The last meeting was due on July 17 but instead it was adjourned until this morning.
Administrators PPB Advisory recommended placing the company in liquidation.
Caledon Coal owes its employees $22million and WICET more than $24million, according to the report.
There are concerns WICET and its miner owners are unable to repay nearly $4 billion to 19 lenders under the original contract.
The company's failure forced 180 workers into redundancy from the Cook Colliery mine.
A creditor's report said Caledon workers - believed to be senior management - would receive their full entitlements and Cook Colliery workers would receive 52c in the dollar.