Apr 02, 2020

Coal quality tampering probe finds high rate of breaches

Coal quality tampering probe finds high rate of breaches

About half of the coal sample analysis certificates issued by ALS laboratories in Queensland and NSW since 2007 were manually amended ‘without justification’, an investigation has found.

The company today said an independent forensic investigation had been completed into the Coal Superintending and Certification Unit within the ALS coal business.

“The investigation has identified evidence that approximately 45-50 per cent of the certificates of analysis were manually amended without justification in the company’s laboratories in Newcastle, Mackay, Gladstone and Emerald since acquisition of the the ACIRL business by ALS in 2007,” the company statement said.

“No evidence of bribery or other third-party payments involving ALS staff has been found or indicated.”

ALS said it was referring the matter to NSW police.

The investigation came after a former TerraCom commercial general manager filed a Federal Circuit Court lawsuit against his old company for unfair dismissal, including allegations that TerraCom and ALS had been involved in falsifying coal quality results.

TerraCom, which operates the Blair Athol coal mine, ‘categorically denies’ the allegations.

The four most senior staff of the ALS Coal Superintending and Certification Unit were suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

ALS said the GM Coal Services’ employment had since been terminated and the other three staff were no longer employed by the business.

Chief executive officer and managing director Raj Naran described the activity uncovered as a very serious breach of the ethical standards expected.

“Now that we have established the extent of the issues within the coal superintending unit, our focus is on upgrading systems and processes to ensure the integrity of coal certifications and reassure our clients,” he said.

“While the findings of the investigation are very disappointing, we are pleased that the review found no evidence of any similar practices elsewhere in the group.”

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