Open Cut Mine near Rolleston.
Open Cut Mine near Rolleston.

Resources minister distances himself from brother’s mine buy

RESOURCES Minister Senator Matt Canavan has distanced himself from his brother's multimillion-dollar acquisition of a Central Queensland coal mine last week.

Senator Canavan told the Senate on Thursday his younger brother, John, had acquired a 7 per cent interest in the mine.

He also said as a result of the purchase, his brother-in-law, Logan lawyer James Stokes, would acquire just over 0.7 per cent interest in the mine.

Last week, Japanese mining giant Itochu sold its wholly-owned Australian subsidiary's interest in the thermal coal mine to Winfield Energy Pty Ltd.

The company in which John Canavan is managing director, bought a 12.5 per cent stake in the Bowen Basin coal mine.

Rolleston mine, 500km southwest of Mackay, was put on the market in August 2017 when mining giant Glencore announced it was divesting.

It has government approval to extend its mine life to beyond 2040.

It was Itochu's second such sale of thermal coal assets since 2016. The company said the sale followed its decision to "contribute to the development of a sustainable society" while responding to the social demands of stable supply of energy to domestic and overseas customers.

On Thursday, Senator Canavan went on the front foot and made a statement to the Senate after seeking advice from the Prime Minister's Office and the Clerk of the Senate.


Resources Minister Senator Matt Canavan is a long-time coal advocate.
Resources Minister Senator Matt Canavan is a long-time coal advocate.


He said his advice was to disclose "interests held by immediate family members during the deliberations of cabinet, in accordance with the requirements of the Cabinet Handbook, and arranging, as per this advice, that any decisions that involve actual conflict of interest between immediate family members, interests and ministerial responsibilities are referred to another minister," he said.

"This advice has indicated that I am under no obligation to record this on the register (Register of Senators' Interests)."

Mr Stokes said his Senator brother-in-law was "completely blindsided" by the news even though John Canavan had worked in the mining industry for more than a decade for Peabody Mine's merger and acquisition department.

Sen Canavan was aware of his brother's company's bid for the mine but not of his brother's holding in the mine until after the deal.

Federal Opposition Resources spokesman Jason Clare has been contacted for comment.