MACKAY Conservation Group is planning to make Rio Tinto "an offer it can't refuse": it will pay 2000 times more money than another company has offered to buy the Blair Athol coal mine.
Junior mining company TerraCom recently announced plans to buy the mine near Clermont for $1, providing current owners Rio Tinto place $80million cash in a bank account controlled by the State Government for the mine's eventual rehabilitation.
The $80m figure was based on an assessment of the mine's rehabilitation liability carried out in November last year by the Queensland Government.
However, the sale has not yet been approved by the Queensland Government.
Lock the Gate Alliance's Rick Humphries, a former Rio Tinto employee who worked on the Blair Athol closure plan, said Rio Tinto had estimated the rehabilitation would cost "more than double" the $80m proposed. "The primary reason Rio Tinto is so keen to see this deal go through is because it's good for their shareholders to get it off the books. It's a bargain," he said.
Mining companies had a greater vested interest than government in getting their rehabilitation estimation right, making its formulas more accurate, Mr Humphries said. And he warned if the $80m was not enough, it would be taxpayers called upon to fund the difference.
However, the Mackay Conservation Group has hatched a plan to prevent this scenario.
Last week the group launched a crowd-funding campaign, which aims to source $2000 to offer Rio Tinto for the mine.
As this would be 2000% more than the $1 offered by TerraCom, Peter McCallum believes it is an excellent deal for the company.
The only condition is Rio Tinto would have to fund all rehabilitation costs, even if they were greater than $80m.
Yesterday, more than 24 people had made donations of $2 to $500 and $1392 had been raised in total.
Mr McCallum planned to write to Rio Tinto with the "more rewarding" offer yesterday evening.
"We don't think any board member will be able to reject our offer," he said.
Rio Tinto declined to comment on the idea.
Mr Adi George Zimmerebner (sapphire mine): $11,000 in financial assurance bond, but rehabilitation cost was about $200,000
Papillion Mining and Exploration: $11,204 in FA bond, rehabilitation cost $100,000.
Tamaya Resources: $148,480 in FA bond, rehabilitation cost unknown.
Mt Chalmers (copper and gold): $34,000 in FA bond, rehabilitation cost was more than $1m.
Texas Silver: $2m in FA bond, rehabilitation cost was $10m.
Collingwood Tin: FA bond matched rehabilitation costs at $1.2m.