Category Archives: Bathurst Resources

Grandmothers and farmers block Fonterra plant

Press Release

Three grandmothers, a student and a farmer have this morning chained themselves to a gate to prevent coal being delivered to Fonterra’s Clandeboye dairy factory in South Canterbury.dsc_2258

At 7.30 am, the five locked themselves to the gate at the entrance to the factory’s coal plant, as a pile of woodchips was dumped in front of them, with the message “FONTERRA QUIT COAL,” while others were dressed as cows pointing to the woodchips as an alternative.  In all, 24 people are now at the site taking part in the protest.

One of the grandmothers is Coal Action Network Aotearoa’s (CANA) Jeanette Fitzsimons,joined by CANA’s Rosemary Penwarden, Auckland Coal Action’s Jill Whitmore (also a farmer), Mike Dumbar – one of the farmers who refused to sell his land to Solid Energy when it was buying up land for its now-abandoned plans for massive coal expansion project in Southland, and Charlie Montague – a health student from Dunedin.

“Fonterra is our second largest user of coal and this factory burns 180,000 tonnes of coal a year. All of this ends up in our atmosphere, contributing to climate change. It’s time for Fonterra to keep the coal in the hole and switch to woodchips instead,” said Ms Fitzsimons.

“Fonterra’s coal use is also propping up the mining industry – coal mines around the country are being re-opened and extended because of Fonterra’s addiction to coal.”

Fonterra is the largest customer for Bathurst Resources, which started mining the Denniston Plateau, but stopped when the coal price dropped.

“There is no question that without Fonterra, this company would have gone bust,” she added.

The protest has come at the end of CANA’s “Summerfest” in Ashburton, which has seen more than 50 campaigners from around the country gather for a two-day discussion around the issues of Coal, Cows and Climate.

“The meeting was extremely productive. New Zealand’s biggest contribution to climate change is agriculture, with rising emissions from the dairy industry in particular.   Farmers are being hit by the impacts of climate change, and everyone is experiencing the gathering crisis of water pollution.  These issues are all connected.”

 

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What’s Going On At Stockton?

Failed state-owned coal company Solid Energy may no longer be hitting the headlines, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on – far from it. And the consequences may be very serious.

Our sources on the West Coast tell us that between 15 and 20 groups of potential buyers, mainly from India, have been through Solid Energy’s big Stockton mine there.

We also know that Bathurst Resources, the Australian coal mining company that fled Australia and set up in New Zealand, and which has managed to make a fearful mess of the unique and biodiverse Denniston Plateau in the course of a largely failed attempt to extract coal from it at an economic price, is trying to buy Stockton.

Work on the Denniston Plateau has now stopped.

Work on the Denniston Plateau has now stopped – but the destruction wrought by Bathurst Resources remains.

Republic Investment Management of Singapore recently bought a 20% stake in Bathurst Resources, and they are seeking to acquire more, possibly with a view to taking a controlling interest. This has allowed Bathurst to raise funds in relation to “an impending NZ coal opportunity”, which we believe may be the attempted purchase of Stockton and other coal deposits which Solid Energy has the rights to but has not attempted to mine. Continue reading

Honey I shrunk the board!

the Real stakeholder meetingBathurst’s annual shareholder meeting took place on Friday morning, with activists holding their own, alternative shareholder meeting.

Our press release, and images are below, but meanwhile the board meeting itself produced some interesting results:  Bathurst is so strapped for cash that it has had to lay off board members. It is still waiting for international coal prices to rise, but we don’t think this is going to happen any time soon.

Over in Australia, coal giant Glencore has even stopped mining for three weeks: paying its 8000 workers holiday pay is cheaper than digging cheap coal out of the ground.

Here’s our Press Release and pix of the action. Continue reading

The Stakes Are High On The Denniston Plateau: Bathurst Resources “Alternative Stakeholder Meeting” 8.15am-9.30am, Friday 14 November, Wellington

The Stakes Are High On The Denniston Plateau

Bathurst Resources “Alternative Stakeholder Meeting”
8.15am-9.30am, Friday 14 November
Meet at Verve Café, 250 Lambton Quay, Wellington

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/579844212147375/

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

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

Continue reading

Stern Criticism of Westpac – From A Surprising Quarter

DumpDennistonLogoCoalA recently published article contains a stern critique of Westpac over their continuing financial support of coal miners Bathurst Resources, who have now begun removing “overburden” (i.e. the ecosystem) from the Denniston Plateau in preparation for larger-scale coal mining when and if international coal prices rise. In the article, Kath Dewar says:

By contrast Westpac has been less savvy.  Heralded in 2011 as a leader of sustainability, since November 2013 the bank has been repeatedly embarrassed by media coverage of protests triggered by its lending practices.  Westpac’s loans to Bathurst, the company poised to open-cast mine the Denniston Plateau  conservation area for coal, despite significant environmental opposition, make the bank’s efforts to cut the climate footprint  climate impact of its office operations seem tokenistic. Such ‘green-wash’ is easily seen as hypocritical and 94% of NZers say they “get annoyed when products try to pass themselves off as greener than they really are” (source: Colmar Brunton, 2011).

Right on the point, you might think, but not a new criticism – until you discover that this article appeared in the blog of the Marketing Association of New Zealand. The article Scrubbing up grubby brands and clean slate competition is well worth reading, and it’s very noticeable that Westpac is now being called out for its greenwashing even within the business community.

If you’d like to increase the pressure on Westpac, please sign the CANA/350.org.nz  letter to Westpac CEO Peter Clare and get involved in the campaign for Westpac to divest from Bathurst Resources.

Coal communities deserve better than the “boom and bust” coal industry

We at Coal Action Network have a vision for Aotearoa:  that we are coal-free by 2027.  We’ve arrived at this date as it’s when all the current coal mines in operation around the country will reach their end date.

Our new report released today.

Our new report released today.

It doesn’t include new mines such as Bathurst’s plans for the beautiful Dennison Plateau, where operations have stalled and 29 workers were recently laid off as the coal price has plummeted in the face of a global oversupply.

But imagine if the Government was to draw a line in the sand and state that there would be no more coal mines in Aotearoa.  If they did that today,  this would give coal mining communities the time to adjust, to plan a transition away from coal that involved the entire community, and led to a sustainable future. Continue reading

The real deal on Westpac’s coal funding

It's not to late to change banks in time for our week of action.

It’s not to late to change banks in time for our week of action.

When we started our campaign against Westpac because of its investment in Bathurst Resources, the company bit back.

No, no, we don’t invest in Denniston, they said.

We were investing in Bathurst before they were planning Denniston, they said.

The facilities we have with them relate to their existing operations, they said. Nothing to do with Denniston, they said.

While we have written to Westpac to clarify all of these points, we haven’t heard back.  They’ve gone silent, instead promoting their so-called sustainability.  But Bathurst’s half yearly report, released recently, is very useful and has provided all the information we think we need.

It certainly doesn’t tell us anything that would lead us to call off the campaign, as Westpac thinks we should.

The Bathurst report (page 18) goes into great detail on its relationship with Westpac  – perhaps in response to our campaign.  Here’s the detail on Westpac from that report:

“In July 2012, the Group obtained a finance facility with Westpac New Zealand Limited for the acquisition of a new mining fleet. The total amount available and drawn on the facility as at 31 December 2013 was $3.5 million.”

This new mining fleet is currently being deployed at the Cascade mine, just down from Escarpment (Denniston).  The thing is, Bathurst’s mining all it can out of Cascade, because it needs as much money as it can to fund the new mine. 

Will none of that fleet be used to take the beautiful Denniston plateau apart?  Even if it isn’t, all of Bathurst’s mines are being used to finance the new one.  So it’s a bit silly to claim they’re not related.

It’s also a bit silly to claim, as they do, that their investments in Bathurst were made before the company had made any plans to mine Denniston.  Bathurst’s whole entry into New Zealand was always all about Denniston and the coking coal up on that plateau.  They’ve bought up all the mines they currently own in order to get this new mine (and the next five mines next to it) up and running.

Next quote from Bathurst’s report:

 “In addition, the Group has with Westpac New Zealand Limited a term loan $1.2m, finance lease facilities $0.3m, and bank overdraft facilities which were unused at 31 December 2013.”

There are no caveats here about where this money from Bathurst’s term loan with Westpac should be spent.  Again, this is about Bathurst having enough money to keep going and start digging up the Denniston Plateau.

Right now the company is in dire financial straits, not helped by the low price of coking coal.  But it’s abundantly clear to us that Westpac is helping this company keep afloat through both loans: the $3.5million loan for its mining fleet and the $1.2million loan and the finance lease facilities.

While Bathurst has said this all-time low price of coal means they won’t start digging any up yet, (while laying off 29 workers), once it gets all the permits approved, it plans to start readying the Denniston Plateau for mining.

We have yet to find out whether this includes removing all the “overburden” [read: beauty, biodiversity], but, with Forest & Bird, have called on them not to do this and for the Minister of Conservation to hold back his permission.

We also note that the Buller District Council is getting very excited about the planning permissions being signed off. It looks like Bathurst may be clear of all the red tape pretty soon.

So it’s still a great time –  if you’re a Westpac customer who wants to do something about Bathurst’s plans to dig up a beautiful part of New Zealand for coal that will ultimately end up in the sky and contribute to climate change – to

Sign up to Make the switch!

It’s not too late to switch away from Westpac in time for our Week of Action beginning 7th April around the country.  So get switching people!

Final note: Westpac is also one of the banks propping up Solid Energy, who, along with Bathurst Resources, are both pretty shaky companies. You’d think they might learn that coal is a bad investment on so many levels.  Maybe they should follow the path of Bill Koch (younger brother to the infamous Koch Industries brothers), who is getting out of the coal mining industry because, in his words, it “has kind of died.”