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New open-cast coal mine in Peerless Valley

Solid Energy chases small new coalmine QM Aug-Sept 2016 Featured Image

The West Coast is set to have a new, small, open-cast coal mine, with state-owned enterprise Solid Energy applying to the West Coast Regional Council for the resource consents necessary to develop an area in the Peerless Valley near Reefton.

Solid Energy, currently in voluntary administration, wants to set up a one-hectare pit to mine coal from an area adjacent to old open-cast and underground mine workings about two kilometres northeast of Reefton. Between 10,000 tonnes and 15,000 tonnes of coal is targeted.

According to Solid Energy’s application to the local council, this small mine will be just east of the small Reddale open-cast mine “where mining is to cease within the next few months” due to ongoing slumping. The proposed new mine will allow Solid Energy to retain affected staff.

“The company is currently carrying out exploration activities further to the east. Mining of the Peerless area while adjacent exploration activity is completed will enable seamless operations, continued workforce employment and continuity of coal supplies,” says the Solid Energy application.

There will be about eight workers on the site, plus consultants on an intermittent basis, plus some other Solid Energy staff. All overburden will be placed in an adjacent mined-out pit on the conservation estate.

It is understood Solid Energy wants to start this new venture very soon after resource consents have been granted and that the new mine will produce quality thermal coal for industrial and commercial customers in the upper South Island and West Coast.

Meanwhile, shareholders of Australian listed South Island coal miner Bathurst Resources in late June overwhelmingly approved Singapore-based Republic Investment Management (RIM) taking a greater stake in Bathurst by acquiring at least half of the Wellington headquartered company’s new capital raising of A$4.25 million of convertible notes.

If RIM converts the notes to additional shares this could lift its investment in Bathurst above 25 percent, helping Bathurst refinance its current facilities, provide additional working capital for development and the evaluation of “the impending sale process of a major NZ coal producer”, believed to be Solid Energy and its Stockton mine assets that are near Bathurst’s presently mothballed Escarpment coking coal project.  By Neil Ritchie.

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