Stowe mining rights decision reserved

TWO brothers faced each other in Perth’s Mining Warden’s Court on Friday arguing for and against Ric Stowe’s 57 applications to reclaim exploration and mining rights from his former company Griffin Coal.

The warden reserved his decision on the tenements, now under the control of Indian power giant Lanco Infratech.

Brahma Dharmananda, SC, represented Griffin Coal lawyer and his brother Kanaga Dharmananda, SC, appeared for Mr Stowe’s Genbow Pty Ltd.

The Monaco-based businessman is using a strategy called “plainting”, which involves arguing that the holder of a tenement has not made the necessary expenditure to develop the tenements and should, therefore, cede control.

Lanco, which bought the Griffin operations for $750 million in late 2010, is trying to secure finance to expand its operations.

It is relying on the tenements that Mr Stowe is trying to claw back, to increase annual coal production from between three million and four million tonnes to between 17 million and 18 million tonnes.

Griffin’s lawyer Brahma Dharmananda, SC, told the court the tenements were covered by a state agreement and were, therefore, not subject to the minimum expenditure requirements of the Mining Act.

Under the agreement, Griffin was obligated to submit and adhere to plans it submits to the government every five years without fear of being “plainted” in the interim.

“Otherwise anybody can come along and point to any tenement and say, ‘Aha, in this year there was insufficient expenditure and therefore you are liable to forfeiture’,” Mr Dharmananda said.

He also argued the state agreement operated despite anything else provided in any other law including the 1978 Mining Act.

“That, in a very small nutshell is at the heart of this case,” he said.

Lanco has faced other difficulties in its foray in WA after being hit with legal claims over the Perdaman coal contract.