As Solid Energy's 1200 staff await the latest restructuring
details and whether the company needs a Government bail-out
to survive, listed Australian coal mine developer Bathurst
Resources is forging ahead with further South Island
Bathurst is to pay L&M Coal Holdings Ltd $16.8 million
for a 658ha tenement at Takitimu in Southland, adjacent to
its other Takitimu mine, for production of domestic thermal
Last July, Bathurst bought the Takitimu operations of Eastern
Coal Ltd for $A14 million ($NZ17.2 million), which at the
time was producing about 175,000 tonnes of coal a year.
Although the coal industry is still reeling from last week's
disclosure of Solid Energy's uncertain financial position,
Bathurst's operations remain mired in litigation, with only
small-mine coal production under way.
Bathurst, which wants to begin mining up to 4 million tonnes
of specialist hard coking coal from around the Denniston
Plateau near Westport, is awaiting the outcome of Environment
Court challenges to its resource consents.
Environmentalists are concerned the strip-mining plans will
devastate a unique biodiversity area and wipe out rare flora
and fauna in and around the plateau above Westport.
After having spent more than $120 million and being almost a
year behind schedule, Bathurst's share price has borne the
brunt of frustration, declining from $1.10 almost a year ago
to trade about 40c recently.
Last year, Bathurst had about $150 million in cash and
banking facilities available, plus income of more than $30
million from boutique mine coal sales out of Southland and a
small mine adjacent to the Denniston Plateau. In July 2011,
Bathurst paid $US12 million ($NZ14.4 million) to expand its
Denniston Plateau holdings, by a further 341ha, to Brookdale