Bathurst-Talley's JV gets OIO clearance for $96M purchase of Solid Energy mines

Aug. 31 (BusinessDesk) - BT Mining, the Bathurst Resources-Talley's Group joint venture formerly known as Phoenix Coal, has gained Overseas Investment Office approval to buy Solid Energy's Stockton, Rotowaro and Maramarua Mines and other properties for $96 million.

The OIO signed off on the deal saying it would increase the viability of the Buller Coal Project that was suspended last year in the face of weak international prices for coal. Macquarie Bank analysts today lifted their forecasts for iron ore and coking coal, driven by Chinese demand.

"We consider that the investment (and, in particular, the Stockton Plateau assets) will increase the viability of the Buller Coal Project and increase the likelihood of it proceeding," the OIO said. It also said that Bathurst has "previously undertaken investments that have been of benefit to New Zealand, including the creation or retention of jobs and significant expenditure for development purposes."

Bathurst is the second-largest coal producer in New Zealand and currently owns the Buller Coal Project on the Denniston Plateau. The approval today covers 4,338 hectares of freehold and leasehold land and includes about 63 ha at Huntly West.

BT Mining is 35 percent owned by Talley's while 19.9 percent is owned by Singapore investors and 14 percent by New Zealanders. Singapore's Republic Investment Management has 12.9 percent and Asian Dragon Acquisitions owns 4.7 percent.

Solid Energy was placed in voluntary administration last year after admitting it couldn't pay $239 million of debt facilities coming due. The slump in coal prices weakened the company and made its expansion into novel energy projects look like overreach. In February, Solid Energy closed its Spring Creek mine after failing to find a buyer.