Region in mine's sights

THE director of a prospecting company intent on exploring Griffith for coal seam gas has urged locals to consider the potential economic benefits for the city.

Vaughan Cullen, director of Grainger Energy, has applied to the state government for exploration licences encompassing Griffith, Leeton, Yanco, Coleambally and Narrandera.

Mr Cullen will begin assessing the viability of setting up wells in the region if the department of trade and investment approves his company's application.

He said it was too early to comment on how gas would be mined but said the criticism of the coal seam gas industry was overblown.

“Nobody’s reporting the amount of farmers who have wells on their land who are compensated for it and are happy with the arrangement they strike with the mining companies,” Mr Cullen said.

“Unfortunately coal seam gas is a sensitive issue for people so the benefits for a community and energy security for the state get ignored,” Mr Cullen said.

“Anything that is found in the area will have a roll on benefit to the community.”

Asked whether Mr Cullen would sell his tenements to larger mining companies in the event he found gas, he said there were a number of “end-game” scenarios but exploration had to be conducted first.

“It’s not always the case that people in this industry throw it up to the big guys and just walk away.

“The thing is, ideally you don’t do these types of things unless there’s valid risk/reward, but you just don’t know.

“Explorers like me go out there to look around and operate within the laws.

“This is Australia, not a third world country and everyone in this industry wants to do a good job, although unfortunately sometimes things happen and people jump on them.”

Griffith accountant Roy Spagnolo is listed as director and secretary of Grainger Energy Pty Ltd, but Mr Cullen explained Mr Spagnolo had merely established the company on his behalf and the details would be changed shortly.

Mr Cullen also said the bureaucrats tasked with issuing exploration licences were taking longer than usual since the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigation into disgraced former Labor minister Eddie Obeid’s mining interests. 

The news of coal seam gas exploration in Griffith comes as the NSW Minerals Council estimated the direct spending on goods and services, wages and salaries, local councils and community groups flowing from mining in the Murrumbidgee totalled $13 million during 2012/13.  

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