METGASCO has been warned by the government that its "failure to comply" with the conditions of its now suspended exploration licence, PEL 16, "constitutes grounds for the cancellation of the title".
Following the shock suspension of the title yesterday by Resources Minister Anthony Roberts, the company is now urgently preparing documents to argue the case that they did in fact meet their community consultation requirements.
In a statement due to be released to the Australian Stock Exchange today, the company says the suspension of its Bentley project and the company's referral to ICAC over information received about shareholding and interests in Metgasco, had come without warning, the statement says.
The company says it is "not aware of any matter involving the conduct of Metgasco, its staff or of its shareholders that would constitute grounds for an investigation by ICAC" and had been unable to learn any detail about the referral.
"The Government's reason for the suspension relates to our community consultation program but the suspension letter provides little explanation of what we should have done that we did not do. No effort was made to seek any perspective from Metgasco," the statement says.
"Metgasco has conducted a thorough community consultation program over recent years and a specific program for the Rosella well.
"We have prepared the required annual community consultation reporting to government together with a plan for 2014 and received no negative feedback. Regular contact with the Office of Coal Seam Gas has not indicated there has been any problem with our consultation to date.
"We are preparing documentation now that demonstrates that we have fulfilled our licence condition requirements in this respect.
"We are seeking to have the government withdraw the suspension, allowing us to proceed with the well immediately. ... Without an immediate lifting of the suspension, the timing of the Rosella well becomes indeterminate and Metgasco will suffer substantial costs."
The company noted it had spent $100 million on developing the gas resource around the Northern Rivers and had all government approvals in place and a "willing landholder".