High life, low coal price sends Australian mining baron bankrupt

Thu Mar 3, 2016 3:29am EST
 
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By James Regan

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Rags-to-riches coal baron Nathan Tinkler, who rode the mining boom to become Australia's youngest billionaire before losing it all when coal prices collapsed, has been declared legally bankrupt after failing to pay off a private jet.

The bankruptcy order comes 10 years after the 40-year-old scraped together a A$1 million ($728,700) deposit for a rundown coal mine that returned a profit of A$442 million 18 months later.

At that time, coal was at the forefront of a boom in Australian mining, with rising orders from fast-industrializing Asia creating a rush of development and consolidation.

Tinkler quickly parlayed a series of audacious deals into a fortune, far removed from his days as an apprentice at one of BHP's coal mines, where he is said to have spent much of his free time scouring share prices in newspapers.

He had toyed with the idea of going to university, but felt he would “fail uni (university) the same way I did high school … I was just not cut out for hitting the books," according to a biography by business writer Paddy Manning.

ASSET SALES

By 2012, the resources boom and Tinkler's fortune had begun to unravel. As coal prices plummeted, Tinkler was forced to sell an array of assets, including a beloved thoroughbred horse stud as well as professional soccer and rugby teams based in the gritty coal shipping town of Newcastle.   Continued...

 
File photo of former Australian billionaire Nathan Tinkler talking to a journalist as he arrives at the New South Wales Supreme Court in central Sydney March 14, 2013. REUTERS/Steve Christo