Metgasco moves in on Casino CBD, calls for govt support
METGASCO chief Peter Henderson says a decision to open a new office in Casino's town centre is a sign the mining company is in for the long haul.
Management is weighing up its options after the Supreme Court ruled in April that the Baird Government's suspension of Metgasco's licences at Bentley was illegal.
Mr Henderson said Metgasco had every intention of resuming drilling, but would need support from the government and police.
"Our shareholders expect us to explore. That's why we have a licence, and we have a right to do so," he said.
"We would like the government to compensate us for the damages they caused last year.
"We also want them to support us with the police, because we will inevitably need their help to get across the protest line to get equipment on site.
"Some people believe they are allowed to break the law to support their own views.
"But we have a lawful right to be here and were encouraged to come to this state."
Metgasco has opened a new shopfront on Barker St in the Casino CBD to provide the public with information about its operations and the mining industry in general.
The office had been based on the town's outskirts, but Mr Henderson said the new site would allow more people to "walk by and drop in" if they had any concerns.
"Council has been encouraging us to (move) for some time, so our lease ending was the perfect opportunity," he said.
He said the State Government had been held to ransom by an aggressive minority of protesters from outside Casino, who were not afraid to break the law to further their ideology.
Metgasco has already invested $120 million into its Bentley operations, he said, and would need significant compensation if the government banned coal seam gas from the region.
"We know when we get back to drilling, (protesters) will try to prevent us getting on site," Mr Henderson said.
"We have no problem at all if they protest. They can walk up and down Lismore streets all they like... as long as they don't interfere with our lawful rights.
"It is not reasonable that they intimidate the farmers with whom we're working, or vandalise their property.
"If the government, for whatever reason, decides they would prefer not to have gas mining in the Northern Rivers, they should talk to us about buying out our licences.
"They would have to compensate us properly, and then we would have to go back to the shareholders to get approval."