4 March 2024

Aussie coal company keeps mining Russian coal, takes Australian government to court over sanctions laws

ASX-listed Tigers Realm Coal Limited has continued, through its Russian subsidiaries, to mine, load and sell Russian coal, despite the risk of being in breach of Australia’s sanctions laws. Tigers Realm’s 2023 Annual Financial Report indicates that in 2023 alone, they mined 1,601,000 tonnes (1,601 kt) of coal resulting in $140,125,000 in revenue.

Russian coal has been an import sanctioned good in Australia since April 2022.

On 4 March 2024, the company’s Federal Court action against the Commonwealth proceeds to hearing. Tigers Realm is challenging the application of Australia’s sanctions laws to its activities, in  response to DFAT’s indicative assessment that their operations were likely to be in breach of Australia’s sanctions regime.

One of Tigers Realm’s main shareholders is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) – a Russian Sovereign Wealth Fund setup by Putin and a designated entity under Australia, US, UK and Canada sanctions regimes.

Melissa Chen, Senior Lawyer from Australian Centre for International Justice made the following comments:

“Tigers Realm’s continued activities, in mining and selling Russian coal, raise serious questions about the company’s compliance with Australia’s sanctions laws. Should the Court find that Australia’s sanctions laws do indeed apply to Tigers Realm’s activities, Australian authorities must consider pursuing criminal investigation and prosecution as a deterrent for such conduct.”

“Australia needs strong, enforceable sanctions laws to effectively condemn Russia’s immoral and illegal invasion of Ukraine, and to cut off the financial resources which fuel the invasion”.

Clancy Moore, CEO of Transparency International Australia made the following comments:

“Tigers Realm Coal is still digging up and exporting Russian coal which is a sanctioned good under Australia’s sanctions regime. This lines the pockets of the corrupt and dangerous Putin regime with taxes and royalties helping to fund the war in Ukraine.”

“Any Australian business operating in Russia faces significant corruption and money laundering risks plus the impact of sanctions.”

Timeline of events:

  • In April 2023, Tigers Realm Coal disagreed with DFAT’s assessment that its mining operations were likely to be prohibited under Australia’s sanctions laws, instead stating that they were considering applying for a permit and outlining an intention to privatise the company in a possible attempt to avoid the application of these sanctions laws.
  • On 21 June 2023, the Australian Centre for International Justice, Transparency International Australia and Ukraine, and Razom We Stand publicly urged the government to refuse to grant a sanctions permit to Tigers Realm, arguing that this would not be in Australia’s national interest and could undermine the broader objectives of Australia’s sanctions regime against Russia.
  • On 22 June 2023, Tigers Realm filed an application in the Federal Court, seeking declarations that Australia’s sanctions laws do not apply to its coal mining activities in Russia.
  • On 4 July 2023, Tigers Realm made an ASX announcement, stating that its potential privatisation and delisting from the ASX were being suspended.
  • On 4 March 2024, the hearing in relation to Tigers Realm’s court action commenced.