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Queensland nixes Baal Gammon copper mine leases over unpaid fees

The Queensland, Australia, government nixed the mining leases for Baal Gammon Copper Pty. Ltd.'s mothballed Baal Gammon copper mine over A$11,775 in unpaid local council rates, The Australian reported March 19.

A spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy said that while the trigger for canceling the licenses was the unpaid local government rates, the operation was noncompliant in certain matters, including an outstanding payment of over A$3 million in fees for annual rent and security, financial assurance and environmental authority.

The department said the mine's owners have 28 days to appeal the decision.

Owner Denis Reinhardt slammed the notion of revoking the licenses for the mine, which he valued at over A$100 million, over the overdue council rates.

"The councils didn't make the complaint ... the rates officers told me they [were] approached by the Mines Department," Reinhardt said in the report. "Expropriation and closure of Baal Gammon for narrow reasons is against the national interest."

Reinhardt claimed that the government saw the almost A$3.8 million cash bond as a "jackpot" for its abandoned mines unit and a reason for targeting his operation.