SURVEYING what he describes as some of the best horse breeding land in Australia, Coolmore’s Paddy Power is hoping the beautiful green vista of Hunter River alluvial flats and undulating farm land he is looking at is not turned into an industrial wasteland.
Mr Power is Coolmore’s business manager and as his name suggests is a true Irishman who has lived and worked on the 8000 acre property for the past 12 months and during that time he has come to love not only his job but the property itself.
These days he is spending too much of his time reading through massive documents produced by mining companies who wish to surround Coolmore and the neighboring Darley stud with new or expanded coal mines.
But Coolmore’s greatest challenge at the moment is the Doyles Creek Mine whose exploration licence covers the majority of the property and in particular all the weanling and yearling paddocks.
In December last year Coolmore received a letter from Doyles Creek Mining requesting access to the property to conduct drilling exploration.
Coolmore are vehemently opposed to granting that access and given the next hearings of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) due to start on Monday, March 18 will investigate the granting of the Doyles Creek Mining exploration licence – Coolmore want the state government to immediately suspend the exploration licence until ICAC makes a final report.
“Where they want to conduct drilling is some of the best land on the property - it is where we run the weanlings and yearlings and the two things cannot co-exist,” said Paddy.
“Where in the world does coal mining either underground or open cut co-exist with a horse stud like ours, nowhere absolutely nowhere.
“This is one of the most successful horse studs in the country, ourselves and our neighbour Darley we are two of the biggest players in the country. We are a successful and truly sustainable business but this won’t be the case if we have a mine operating under most of our country.”
Coolmore like Darley is probably a half a billion dollar property and the owners have made massive investments in infrastructure and continue to invest heavily in the maintenance and upgrade of facilities.
The farm has the potential to earn significant income from horses like its star stallion Fastnet Rock who last year served 200 mares at $200,000 a service.
With the investigation about to begin on the granting of the Doyles Creek Mine exploration licence Mr Power said it made absolute sense to stop all activity related to the exploration licence.
“We don’t want drilling rigs damaging the property, our reputation as a world leading stud and just as importantly our aquifers only to see the mine’s licence rejected following the ICAC hearings,” he said.
Doyles Creek Mine exploration licence unlike the Mount Penny licence covers mostly land not owned by the mine proponents or land where Doyles Creek Mining has gained access agreements.
As most of the land in the exploration licence covers Coolmore the stud wants an urgent government decision to halt all exploration.
NuCoal’s spokeman Patrick Southam said the company had conducted good faith negotiations over several years with Coolmore management regarding an access agreement to conduct exploratory drilling as required under the conditions of its exploration licence.
He said on December 3, 2012, NuCoal sent Coolmore management a revised access arrangement (under Section 142 of the NSW Mining Act) which included special conditions to address issues previously raised by Coolmore.
“As NuCoal has been unable to reach agreement with Coolmore, it has formally requested Coolmore to nominate an arbitrator as per Section 142 of the Mining Act,” he said.
“If agreement cannot be reached with Coolmore on a suitable arbitrator, NuCoal will request the Director General to appoint a member of the Arbitration Panel as the arbitrator under Section 144 of the Act.”