Mining mystery - Pop-up company worth $24 in coal seam gas controversy

Groundwater coal seam gas extraction diagram.

Groundwater coal seam gas extraction diagram.

A POP-UP company with just $24 in share capital is seeking to determine the coal seam gas potential of land in the Gwydir shire.

Trough Exploration Pty Ltd has applied to the NSW Office of Coal Seam Gas (OCSG) to undertake “surveys and investigations” across a 1500sq km area.

The target zone takes in some land to the west of the Warialda and Bingara townships that the Gwydir Shire Council considers to be of high agricultural value.

A lack of consultation has caused concern among the council and some residents in the towns at a time when debate over the merits of coal seam gas is raging.

Trough Exploration was formed last October and lodged its Petroleum Special Prospecting Authority (PSPA) application little more than a month later.

It is understood to have since been directed by a government department to re-advertise the application at least twice due to a lack of detail.

A Bingara local, who did not wish to be named, said she was “concerned” that the company had not provided residents with any information about the application.

“We just want them to explain what is a PSPA, what does it enable them to do, why they are doing it and what are they looking for,” she said.

Resources and Energy Minister Anthony Rob- erts announced in March that there was no longer a place in the coal seam gas industry for “speculators and cowboys”.

He placed a moratorium on Petroleum Exploration Licences (PEL), which allow holders to drill, until September and increased the application fee from $1000 to $50,000.

But a spokesman for the minister told The Leader that PSPAs provided holders only with permission to do a “desktop geological study or survey of a certain area”.

“If a company was then to apply for a PEL, it would fall under the moratorium announced by the minister, which includes the $50,000 new application fee ,” he said.

Gwydir mayor John Coulton said the first council learned of the application was when a public notice appeared in the local newspaper.

Trough Exploration has two directors – Dr Ian Blayden and Roy Duffy.

The Leader attempted to contact Dr Blayden through mobile and landline numbers provided by his agent, but they were disconnected.

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