Bathurst focuses on surviving slump

Further exploration has been suspended by West Coast mine developer Bathurst Resources as it waits out a global coal price slump.

At the end of March, premium hard coking coal prices declined to $US99.50 ($NZ115.30) a tonne, the lowest since January last year. Yesterday, futures contracts were between $US115 and $US130.

Bathurst had to suspend operations to start mining export grade hard coking coal from the Denniston plateau, above Westport, and implement cost savings across the company, until global prices rise and stabilise.

''The focus this quarter has been developing the domestic mines to a cash positive position to support the whole business,'' the activities report said.

During the quarter, Bathurst achieved production of 90,263 tonnes from its three domestic South Island coal mines, with sales of 93,985 tonnes, up 22% on a year ago.

''The company is continuing to monitor global coking coal pricing, which has seen a slight upturn in recent weeks. However, that upward trend will need to continue and be sustained before any commitments are made for long-term contract pricing,'' the report said.

While more than 20 exploration holes had been drilled and some trenching excavations had been done during the quarter, further exploration had been suspended, Bathurst said.

In mid-April, Bathurst raised $A7.39 million ($NZ8.03 million) in a private placement, and signalled the possibility of a 1:10 entitlement issue to shareholders, which could raise up to $6 million.


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