THERE has been a lot of petitioning and loud commentary on behalf of "innocent mum and dad investors" of NuCoal Resources, whose investments disappeared after NSW Parliament legislated in January, 2014 to cancel a Hunter coal exploration licence.
The proposed Doyles Creek coal mine at Appletree Flat near Singleton had its first public appearance in a Christmas Eve, 2008 media release issued by a former NSW Government minister, announcing an exploration licence had been granted to Doyles Creek Mining.
Residents of the area opposed it immediately. A parliamentary inquiry considering compensation for NuCoal investors, who bought shares in the company after it bought shares in Doyles Creek Mining, was told the "smell" about the exploration licence was raised by residents at a July, 2009 meeting with NuCoal.
It was also told NuCoal didn't investigate the "unsubstantiated allegations".
There were warnings to shareholders about the risk of investing, but it's fair to say there were also recommendations to buy. And investors did. Some were attracted to the idea of a local company committing to a training mine in the Hunter. Others thought a proposal associated with the University of Newcastle - which received $1 million from the mine's proponents - was worth supporting. The mine's figures appeared solid, and there was "expectation" a company like BHP would make a takeover bid.
But it didn't come to pass.
There were corruption findings, legislation to cancel the exploration licence, and years of court proceedings followed by a NuCoal campaign from March this year "to promote shareholder innocence". There are 3000 NuCoal shareholders, including 500 in the Hunter and an unknown number in America, where a lobby group is working with NuCoal and its American investors to "raise the improper treatment of shareholders" with the United States Trade Representative.
A parliamentary committee considering MP Fred Nile's amendment bill, which proposes NSW Government compensation through an independent arbitrator, heard evidence about share purchases at various stages of the training mine's progress - from proposal, to provisional, to cancelled. Some were "speculative", some were made by "excited" investors. And quite possibly, some NuCoal investors just held on for too long.