Bathurst jumps another hurdle on path to mining Denniston Plateau

Bathurst Resources has beaten off another appeal by environmental groups seeking to stop it mining for coal on the Denniston Plateau on the West Coast.

In the High Court in Christchurch, Justice John Fogarty today turned down an appeal by the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society against the Environment Court's preliminary decision not to look at the cumulative impact of Bathurst's proposed mine and a Solid Energy permit for a separate site.

A cumulative analysis would be difficult to do because the area has not been mined for a long time and the authorities would have to consider a detailed current application ready for processing against an intention to reactivate a long-standing modified licence.

The Resource Management Act does not provide for applications that may rival each other to be heard together, the judge said.

"This feature of the Act is the source of the hard answer to the otherwise very powerful proposition of Forest and Bird, that if cumulative effects are not considered now, they never will be," he said. "In this case, this is a consequence of the fact that the RMA does not provide for comparative or joint hearings of applications which generate cumulative effects."

The decision clears the way for the next Environment Court hearing on June 12, after Bathurst was given Department of Conservation clearance to mine the plateau last month.

Bathurst's South Buller mining plan sees the company taking around one million tonnes a year over five years from Escarpment, with Whareatea West contributing another million tonnes. It is targeting production of four million tonnes a year once two other mine projects in the North Buller are developed.

The shares rose 4.7 percent to 19.9 cents today and have shed 62 percent this year.


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