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.