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Nucoal Resources Ltd v NSW: the Mining Industry and Potential Health Impacts of Investor State Dispute Settlement in Australia


The Climate Council recently detailed the adverse health impacts of coal on Australian citizens and their environment. Such reports confirm established evidence that coal mining not only releases atmospheric toxins but destroys prime farming land and rivers. This column examines how the revocation of coal mining leases, after proven corruption by disgraced New South Wales politicians was upheld by the High Court (NuCoal Resources Ltd v New South Wales [2015] HCA 13) was challenged using mechanisms in the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement and potentially the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. It is likely that foreign investors in the Australian coal mining and fracking industries will circumvent imprecise exceptions and use investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses in the TPP to initiate claims for damages before panels of conflicted investment arbitrators, alleging appropriation of their investments as a result of Australian legislation or policy taken against the coal industry on public health grounds. This issue is explored through analysis drawn from an extant investor-state dispute involving the mining industry in North America.

Note: This article was first published by Thomson Reuters in the Journal of Law and Medicine and should be cited as ‘TA Faunce and S Parikh, NuCoal Resources Ltd v New South Wales: The Mining Industry and Potential Health Impacts of Investor State Dispute Settlement in Australia, 2016, 23, JLM, 801’.

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Centre: CCL

Research theme: Regulatory Law and Policy

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