13 June 2023

Allowing sanctions exemption to Aussie coal company in Russia against national interest, say NGOs

The Australian Government must refuse ASX listed, Tigers Realm Coal’s application for a permit to avoid sanctions, or risk money flowing to Putin’s bloody war in Ukraine, say leading NGOs.

Tigers Realm’s subsidiary, North Pacific Coal which mines and exports coal in the West of Russia has a number of significant Russian shareholders including recently sanctioned Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), a sovereign wealth fund created in 2011 by then-President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin.

In 2021, Tigers Realm appears to have paid a coal royalty of $945K to the Russian state and has set aside a $25 million royalty liability which could further fund Putin’s war in Ukraine.

In April 2023, Tigers Realm Coal disagreed with DFAT’s assessment that the 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.

In June 2023, in a letter to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong, four NGOs – Australian Centre for International Justice, Transparency International Australia and Ukraine, and Razom We Stand – requested that the government refuse to grant a 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.

The letter also noted the provision of a permit for coal mining activity could contribute to ongoing environmental degradation in the Chukotka Autonomous Region of Russia impacting traditional land owners.

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

“Russia’s natural resources should benefit the people of Russia not fund Putin’s war in Ukraine. Asking the Australian government to grant a permit is against Australia’s national interest and could result in millions of dollars lining the pockets of Putin’s government.”

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

“The granting of a permit to Tigers Realm could undermine Australia’s interest in condemning Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine, which has been characterised by systematic and serious violations of international law perpetrated by Russia against the Ukrainian people.”

“Russia must be held accountable for its unprovoked and unacceptable aggression against Ukraine and there must be no loosening of Australia’s sanctions laws against Russia. We therefore urge the Australian Government to maintain a strong stance against Putin’s reprehensible actions and not grant a sanctions permit for Russian coal.”