New Zealand too green, says Bathhurst boss

Bathurst Resources CEO Hamish Bohannan says overseas shareholders in the company believe New Zealand is “too green”.

Bathurst Resources CEO Hamish Bohannan says overseas shareholders in the company believe New Zealand is “too green”.

Bathurst is currently facing resource management consent appeals over its proposal to develop a coking coal mine of the West Coast’s Denniston Plateau.

Speaking at the weekend on TV3’s The Nation programme, Mr Bohannan said the problem is that New Zealand has an open-ended loop for groups to keep appealing and appealing a deal until it goes to the final Supreme Court hearing. 

“That isn't the case overseas,” he said. “Normally, once you’ve had a ruling that ruling is the ruling. 

“There are obviously first opportunity for appeal, but not re-appeal and re-appeal.”

Mr Bohannan said Bathurst believed it was possible to achieve a balance between preserving “the delicate ecology" of the Denniston Plateau with mining operations.

The mine would be an open cast mine and that meant the company would restore the area once the mining was finished, he said.

“Open cast mining explicitly turns the soil, it's a bit like farming, the difference is once mining's finished you put it back. 

“Farming goes on effectively forever and ever. 

“And what we can do today is put things back pretty well as they were before, and make improvements. 

“We can remove the weeds; we can re-establish wetlands and so forth.”

He said Bathurst was in a different situation to Solid Energy, which faces massive capital write-downs and possible mine closures.

"The unfortunate thing that Solid has large operations, a large workforce, prices have come up, returns have shrunk and they have to cut the cloth to suit the body,” he said.

“We're just in a different space at this moment.”

His company believed the West Coast had great mining potential.

"I think the West Coast has phenomenal opportunity, not only coal.

“There’s been a very good study by West Coast Development, West Coast Minerals on the potential there. 

“Clearly, there is more coal in the south.  We're active in Southland now, and that is good thermal coal that can work in the domestic market.

“And there's gold opportunities, there's ironsand opportunity – we have opportunities throughout the nation.”

Watch the full interview here.

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