Scott Sledge, Lillian Rock
I and several other members of Northern Rivers Guardians (NRG) went to Sydney for the Metgasco 2012 AGM on November 13. We held banners and large laminated signs supplied by Annie Kia, proclaiming coal-seam gas as ‘risky business’.
The Sydney press was alerted by Jacinta Green of CSG-free Sydney, and she did an interview on 2GB radio. Demonstrators dressed (almost) as conservatively as the North Sydney business people handed flyers to Metgasco shareholders as they arrived for the meeting. CEO and spin-artist Peter Henderson arrived surrounded by a cohort of colleagues. He seemed very surprised to see the demonstrators and looked uncomfortable. He refused to take the proffered information.
Some investors told NRG they voted against the proposal to give Henderson nearly a million free shares as ‘an incentive bonus’ because the share price has fallen from more than 50 cents a year ago to less than 20 cents now. The share price in 2008 was more than $1.20. The chairman said it wasn’t Henderson’s fault as the NSW government had held up Metgasco with its CSG moratorium but now it was ‘all go’, so the meeting reluctantly agreed to give Henderson another 12 months to get it right.
Henderson apparently thinks their intended drilling program will convince the local community (which voted 87 per cent against CSG mining in local government elections) that Metgasco can be trusted and that CSG is ‘safe’.
Henderson said he still favoured a pipeline via Lions Way but he admitted that local landholder opposition would cause expensive delays if they try to build a gas pipeline over the Border Ranges into Queensland, which would cost at least $150m. He suggested that a pipeline to a loading dock offshore from Ballina could be an attractive alternative. He said that none of the easements would require payments to landholders from Metgasco !
The protestors told anyone who would listen that northern rivers people had a long history of protecting the environment and would fight CSG all the way, making Metgasco a very risky investment. The mood among investors was sour with many saying they would hold on for a while hoping for an increase in share value rather than lose so much by selling now.
Many shareholders said they were surprised to learn that there was so much local opposition. I intend to complain to ASIC that the sharemarket is not being accurately informed by Metgasco, which is required by law to inform investors of any matters that could affect the share price/value.