Bathurst wins consents for Escarpment mine above Westport
by Pattrick Smellie
Aug 26 (BusinessDesk) – Buller Coal Project developer Bathurst Resources Ltd has gained crucial resource consents that should allow its ambitious open-cast mining plans on the hills above Westport to meet a first production deadline of late this year.
Bathurst went into trading halt on the NZX and ASX this afternoon and chief executive Hamish Bohannan told BusinessDesk the consents had been granted and that the halt, which only had impacts in Australia where trading had not closed, was intended to give the company the weekend to digest the contents before responding.
An Escarpment Coal project website with contacts for the West Coast Regional Council, Buller District Council, and Bathurst’s advisers said the decision would be available on the site today at 4.45pm NZT, but had yet to appear this evening.
However, Bohannan said of the consents: “They’ve been granted.”
That leaves only the negotiation of access agreements with the Department of Conservation before the first part of a plan to mine as much as four million tonnes a year of high-grade coking coal, used in steel-making, can proceed.
The Escarpment project is targeting approximately one million tonnes a year. Bathurst plans to send coal by lighter from Westport to New Plymouth for export.
The project has the capacity, in effect, to replace the output of the Pike River coal mine, which has been closed since explosions took 29 miners’ lives last November.
The 24 resource consent applications cover 200 hectares on the southern Denniston Plateau.The company has consistently met its deadlines on the way to mining by the end of this year, and the consents are no exception, although there is still potential for appeals.
Bathurst shares last traded on the NZX at $1.20 and rose 4.1% prior to the trading halt being announced on the ASX, closing at 101.5 Australian cents.