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Bathurst expects first coal from Denniston in March

Coal miner Bathurst Resources [NZX: BRL] expects to win first coal from its open-cast Escarpment mine on the Denniston Plateau in late March or early April next year, says managing director Hamish Bohannan.

Bathurst gained Environment Court backing for the heavily contested scheme late last month, more than two years after first being granted resource consents to take high-grade coking coal, prized globally for use in steel-making, in August 2011.

The consents were appealed by environmental groups, led by the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society of New Zealand, but the court accepted Bathurst could mine, subject to conditions requiring certain parts of the licence area to preserved.

Bohannan told the Australian investor service BRR Media the company hoped "to be moving rock and moving over burden early in the first quarter, and we're on track to having our first coal at the end of the first quarter, beginning of the second."

Mining plan approvals were now being given final ticks by regulatory authorities, but no further impediments were expected, said Bohannan.

On the global outlook for coking coal, he said "we are seeing the arena down at the moment and we believe we're coming out of it."

"I think that the Japanese steel market is stronger now than it ever has been, clearly the Chinese market has a big impact on it, we seem to be getting good signals from there. We're confident that things will improve and we'll see where we go.

"The big thing for it is our margins, so even in these lower costs times or lower price times we do have a healthy margin," Bohannan said.

Bathurst shares have climbed from 20 cents at the time of the court approvals to close at 27 cents in trading yesterday.


Comments and questions

In mining and in archaeology, overburden (also called waste or spoil) is the material that lies above an area of economic or scientific interest. In mining, it is most commonly the rock, soil, and ecosystem that lies above a coal seam or ore body.

The Escarpment mine on Denniston will take a lot of capital to develop. They need roads, a processing plant, transport infrastructure and removal of the useless “overburden” (that’s the mining name for the biosphere) before they get any coal.

Bathurst Resources' MD Hamish Bohannan announced the company plans to begin moving rock and overburden after the Christmas break and remove its first export coking coal from its Escarpment project by the end of the first quarter next year. 26-Nov
Just a day after Bathurst Resources announced it would restart work at its Buller Coal Project, the company has announced increases in reserves by as much as 20%. 27-Nov