Katter calls for probe into mine corruption claims
Urgent investigations must be undertaken into claims of corruption and coercion by Chinese investors and owners of a northwest Queensland mine, MP Robbie Katter says.
Mr Katter was commenting on explosive claims that Chinese investors in the Rocklands copper mine are looking to sell the assets to themselves, reportedly for a lower price than that offered by another investor.
Listed Australian company CuDeco Ltd, which developed the Rocklands mine with the assistance of Chinese state-owned engineering group Sinosteel, was placed in the hands of receivers at the behest of Chinese lenders in 2019 owing creditors more than $189 million. Mum and dad Australian shareholders lost hundreds of millions of dollars, while unsecured creditors, mostly local contracting firms, lost more than $30 million.
Employees were owed as much as $7 million in entitlements, and made claims on the Federal Government's Fair Entitlements Guarantee Scheme.
Mr Katter said he had been vocal in fighting against the non-payment of staff at Rocklands where dozens of staff and suppliers were owed "vast unpaid dues in superannuation, leave and wages".
He said he had written to Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath last October seeking assistance to ensure the matter was not ignored.
"We want the matter reasonably and fairly addressed in favour of the workers who have been negatively impacted through no fault of their own," he said at the time.
The latest accusations have come from one of the mine's contractors, Oz Mining Pty Ltd.
Oz Mining was part of a group of secured creditors, along with Sinosteel and China Tonghai, participating in a proposed Deed of Company Arrangement to buy the assets and convert their debt into ownership under a new entity.
But the deed never eventuated and receivers have been negotiating to sell the assets to Copper Resources Australia, an Australian subsidiary of Singapore and Hong Kong-based Dragon Field Group.
Mr Katter said KAP had grave concerns about foreign ownership and interference in Australia.
"We continue to be deeply concerned about the erosion of our national interests by foreign interference," Mr Katter said. Mr Katter said whoever purchased and reopened the Rocklands copper mine should commit to a locally based workforce.
Receivers FTI Consulting and Copper Resources Australia were contacted for comment but did not respond before publication.
Originally published as Katter calls for probe into Queensland mine