Tracey Joynson

NuCoal warns businesses against electricity investment

A COMPANY whose NSW mining lease was cancelled without compensation has warned off international businesses from investing in the proposed privatisation of the state's electricity assets.

NuCoal is a publicly-listed company with about 30% of its shareholders based in the United States.

It bought its Doyles Creek mining lease on the Central Coast in 2010, only to have it annulled last year following an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry.

Corruption claims stemmed from the 2007/08 financial year - before NuCoal had any involvement in the lease - but no compensation was given.

Managing director Glen Lewis has told an inquiry into the proposed "poles and wires" sell-off that international companies should think twice before spending their money in Australia.

He said the Federal Government could only take back legally-owned property "on just terms", but no such limitations were applied to the states and territories.

"If the NSW Government wishes to sell off a major infrastructure project to foreign investors they must disclose to all potential investors that they could lose their investment, or be unfairly treated (particularly upon an election being called)," he said.

"This may happen in the event that the government changes power or the government of the day finds it politically expedient to implement law for whatever reason it determines, as recent examples have clearly demonstrated."

NuCoal launched an unsuccessful High Court bid to have the law deemed invalid that allowed the government to expropriate land without compensation.

The company has also approached the US Government to take Australia to the International Court of Arbitration.

It says any successful claim, made under the two countries' Free Trade Agreement, could result in more than $100 million in damages.

A final report on the electricity asset inquiry is due on June 2.