The following contribution from the Queensland Law Society has been printed unedited.
There has been talk about a large deposit of the metal cobalt in the tailings dam of a well-known mining operation’s site.
This particular operation is currently under liquidation with proceedings still before the Queensland courts.
With cobalt emerging as a valuable metal for use in batteries, Queensland Law Society president Ken Taylor explains what is currently occurring and the possibility of accessing this cobalt.
“Liquidators have brought various claims against the operator’s owner personally, along with a number of related entities.
“These fall into four categories: claims for indemnity for liabilities incurred in the operation’s capacity as trustee for, or agent of, the joint venturers while acting as appointed general manager, debt claims and claims for moneys had and received, insolvent trading claims and breach of duty claims against directors, claims challenging validity of securities given by the operation on the eve of voluntary administration.
“After a long and complex case, the liquidators obtained an interlocutory freezing order in May against the defendants.
“This prevents them from removing from Australia or in any way disposing of, dealing with or diminishing the value of their assets below the value of the claims against the respective defendants, until judgement has been handed down in the trial of the proceedings by the liquidators against the defendants.
“The court may extend the freezing orders until the defendants have satisfied the judgements. The assets covered by the freezing orders include the tailing dams where the cobalt is located.
“Pending the trial of the liquidator’s claims and the delivery of a judgement in court, the relevant defendants will remain in control subject to the terms of the freezing orders.
“This is via their appointed replacement general manager of the joint venture.
“Unless the court lifts the freezing orders for some reason, the cobalt will not be able to be removed from the tailings dams until the legal proceedings against the defendants are finalised.
“The most likely scenario for accessing the cobalt is if the liquidators are unsuccessful in their claims.”