Dudley Leitch back in mining biz
FAILED Killarney Abattoir magnate Dudley Leitch has found a place for himself back in the mining industry; the place where he made his initial fortune.
The Daily News can confirm Mr Leitch - who was declared bankrupt in November 2011 after his local farming empire went bust - is nowadays working as a part-time consultant for part Chinese-owned copper giant Chinalco Yunnan Copper Resources Limited.
Managing director of the ASX-listed and Brisbane-based firm Paul Wilson confirmed to the Daily News Mr Leitch has been working as a consultant in recent months but only on "a very small hourly rate".
"Dudley has a long association with the mining exploration sector and has some good contacts, particularly in the Mt Isa area," Mr Wilson said.
"But he is only being employed by us on a limited basis.
"We are engaged in extensive exploration for assets in the copper and gold sectors and his knowledge and expertise are useful to us."
Mr Wilson denied Mr Leitch was receiving share options as part of his employment arrangement.
Chinalco Yunnan is exploring and developing copper and gold projects at Mary Kathleen in the Northern Territory and at Mt Isa and Cloncurry, and also has similar projects in Chile at five locations and at a site in Laos.
The company's largest shareholder is Yunnan Copper Industry Co Ltd which is 58 per cent owned by The Aluminium Corporation of China (Chinalco).
Mr Leitch, who is understood to be currently living in the Brisbane area, bought the Killarney and Pittsworth abattoirs and Warwick's Condamine River Meats at the start of 2008 and was seen as the saviour of Killarney's major employer.
But in less than four years Leitch Pastoral Group unwound and collapsed, leaving debts of nearly $8 million and several hundred people out of a job.
Mr Leitch and wife Karen also bought up swathes of mainly traprock country to the west of Warwick and are still listed as the owners of several properties at Gore, Stonehenge, Springdale and Terrica.
At the time the Leitch family, including daughter Ramona, also ran a string of butcher shops across Brisbane and a business importing artefacts from Mexico, where Mr Leitch's Kings Minerals made a fortune.
The Leitch's were pursued by the ATO for more than $1.5m in unpaid taxes and superannuation but along with other creditors the ATO is still waiting.
Current court actions against Leitch Pastoral and associated entities include those by cattle producer Leon Perrett, the Coomrith Cattle Company, Kolane Pastoral, Landmark and George and Fuhrmann.
The couple's luxury home at Macgregor in southern Brisbane sold for nearly $700,000 in May 2011.
In a sick twist to the Leitch saga a number of unsecured creditors - including locally-owned family firms - were ordered by liquidators Grant Thornton to return payments made to them out of Leitch assets as they were said to have been made by Leitch Pastoral before the ATO, secured creditor Elders Rural Bank and ex-employees had received their shares.
Grant Thornton has so far declined to reveal what proportion of those payments they have so far received but it is understood at least one local creditor opted to send the money back, cutting its losses in the face of expected legal bills from court action.
Public documents on Grant Thornton's website state it expects its role as liquidator to come to an end next March, with outstanding dealings including distributing a "dividend" of outstanding payments to former employees, finalising "the recoveries of preferential payments" and holding a final meeting of creditors, most of whom locally have resigned themselves to never seeing a cent of their money.
While his local creditors battled to stay afloat or went to the bank to go further into debt, Mr Leitch told the Daily News last August he saw himself as a "Mohammed Ali" character, on the ropes and "accepting the punches, until my time arrives to put right the record book".