Minister of Conservation should halt Denniston Plateau mining

Press release

The beauty of the Denniston Plateau.  Photo: Forest & Bird

The beauty of the Denniston Plateau that Bathurst may remove for nothing. Photo: Forest & Bird

Coal Action Network Aotearoa today called on the Minister of Conservation, Nick Smith, to not issue Bathurst Resources the DOC consent it needs to enter and operate its planned mine on the Denniston Plateau, in light of the company’s terrible financial state.

Bathurst has announced today that it is making 29 workers redundant and that it’s not going to mine coal at Denniston until international prices have recovered. However, it intends to go ahead and set up everything else on the plateau in readiness for mining.

This could include the removal of the “overburden” – the beautiful, biodiverse-rich landscape.

“Bathurst is in a terrible financial state.  Like Solid Energy, it’s facing a ‘perfect storm’ of tanking coal prices and a strong NZ dollar – quite a different situation from 2008 when the company started sniffing around the West Coast for coking coal,” said Cindy Baxter of CANA.

“There is no way this company should go ahead with wrecking the plateau, only to sit and wait until the coal price improves, something international commodities commentators are not forecasting to happen any time soon, due to an oversupply in the market.”

“We could find ourselves in a situation where the company goes under, having destroyed the beautiful Denniston Plateau – for absolutely nothing.  The Minister of Conservation needs to step in and refuse to let the company do this,” she said.

“There is no way Bathurst will be able to front up any time soon with the $22 million promised to DOC in the deal Mr Smith made with the company.”

The latest statement from BRL shows the company is having to restructure to keep afloat, and is to shed 29 jobs, instead of providing the 225 jobs it keeps promising – the 225 jobs that would only be there if it ramped up production to one million tonnes a year.

The price of coking coal has tanked, miles below the $165 the company needs to even break even, let alone make any profit. This break-even price was confirmed in a “caucusing agreement” between Bathurst and Forest & Bird at the Environment Court in November 2012, when they agreed that “a minimum expected price for the project to proceed is perhaps US$190.”

See also CANA’s recent blog on Bathurst’s perfect storm.

About these ads