Bathurst pleased with submissions

West Coast newcomer Bathurst Resources could begin open-cast coal-mining operations by the end of the year if its 24 resource consent applications - due to heard on June 7 in Westport - are granted.

The split of 98 submissions reveals 51% in favour and 41% opposing the applications.

Dual-listed Bathurst has permits for a 200ha site in the south of the Denniston plateau in the Buller district. It wants to initially mine 650,000 tonnes of premium hard coking coal, move to one million tonnes per year by 2013 and then two million tonnes within 12 months - with a three-decade lifespan.

Bathurst has lodged 16 resource consent applications with the West Coast Regional Council and eight with the Buller District Council, which the councils' publicly notified.

Public submissions closed in October.

Bathurst managing director Hamish Bohannan said yesterday he was pleased with the majority supporting the project, and claimed even the majority of opposers supported the proposal in concept, but with conditions on their area of interest.

"We've got enormous support locally for this brownfield site ... with plenty of work opportunities in the wake of the Pike tragedy," Mr Bohannan said when contacted yesterday.

The majority of Denniston plateau coal was premium hard coking, with some semi-soft coking coal, both of which command top prices as key ingredients in steel-making from the likes of China and India.

Shares in Bathurst have risen 87% since early December, from 84c to bids at $1.61 yesterday, having hit an earlier high of $1.74 a share in early April.

Craigs Investment partners broker Peter McIntyre said investors were supporting the share price well, with yesterday's bid at $1.61 largely on the back of a "stream of good news" from the company in recent months.

All of the 98 submissions, which do not specifically address each of the 24 resource consent applications, are held by the West Coast Regional Council. There are 51% in favour (50 submissions), almost 42% opposing (41) and seven neutral submissions making up the balance.

While the Department of Conservation is neutral and Ngai Tahu Property Ltd and adjacent coal-miner Solid Energy are "not opposed", opposition includes the Historic Places Trust, former Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, the West Coast Tai Poutini Conservation Board, Te Runanga o Ngati Waewae plus numerous individuals.

Supporters include several businesses, mining and energy companies, permit issuer Crown Minerals, Westport Harbour Ltd and individuals.

• The councils have appointed three independent commissioners for the three-week hearing, with a decision due about three weeks after closing.

simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

 

 

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