Rinehart’s company fails to overturn mining ban
An oil and gas explorer part-owned by billionaire Gina Rhinehart has failed in its bid to overturn Victoria's onshore gas exploration ban and ordered to pay the state's legal costs.
Lakes Oil - part-owned by the mining magnate - and its subsidiaries, Mirboo Ridge and Petro Tech, lost their Supreme Court appeal bid today.
The companies held six permits in southwestern Victoria and Gippsland that has been granted between 2002 and 2013 and planned to explore for conventional gas, coal seam gas and petroleum.
However, work ground to a halt when the Andrews Government introduced a moratorium in 2012.
The ban became permanent in 2017 and a moratorium on onshore conventional drilling was extended till June 2020.
The change prompted the company to launch unsuccessful legal action against the ban as well as seeking $2.7 billion in damages.
The crux of the mining companies' argument centred around the fact that the moratorium was not intended to impact petroleum operations.
However, the decision against the company was upheld on appeal in the latest judgment today.
Minister for Resources Jaclyn Symes said she welcomed the decision.
"We are pleased with the Court of Appeal's decision, which supports our onshore conventional gas moratorium," she said.
"We have banned fracking and we're backing scientific studies to help us review the onshore conventional gas moratorium, which is due to expire on 30 June 2020.
"Over the last few years we have seen dramatic swings in predictions of gas availability and potential resources - we're avoiding the guesswork and completing scientific studies to use evidence as the basis for important decisions."
When introducing the Resources Legislation Amendment (Fracking Ban) Bill 2016 the state government said it was a win for farming communities.
Fracking is a controversial technique used in the extraction of unconventional gas found in coal seams and shale, which involves using a high-pressure water to release the gas inside.
While the onshore conventional gas moratorium continues the government are carrying out a program of geoscientific research on impacts of onshore conventional gas and development.
Lakes oil and its subsidiaries can now seek leave to appeal in the High Court.