PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Coal miner New Hope Corporation on Tuesday told shareholders that it would re-enter negotiations with the newly appointed Minister for Resources in Queensland, in the hopes of clearing the final hurdle for the Stage 3 expansion of the New Acland mine.
“We are hopeful there won’t be a need to revisit the history of the approvals process with the new Minister, given this will be the seventh Queensland Parliament to consider our application,” New Hope chairperson Robert Millner told shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting.
New Hope has been battling the approval of the Stage 3 operation, with the only remaining hurdle being Queensland government approval.
New Hope subsidiary New Acland Coal currently operates the existing New Acland mine as a 4.8-million-tonne-a-year opencut coal mine, however, the mine’s reserves are depleted. The Stage 3 expansion project will increase the mine’s yearly output to 7.5-million tonnes and will extend the operation’s life by some 12 years beyond the current end-date of mid-2020.
With government approvals for the Stage 3 project lagging, New Hope has been forced to make 198 employees and contractors redundant from the mine, company head office and the port over the past 12 months, with a further 90 employees slated to leave the business at the end of November.
Millner on Tuesday told shareholders that swift approvals for the Stage 3 project were not only essential to the company’s workforce and the future of the project, but also to the wider Queensland economy.
“The New Acland mine uses contracting companies from across the state to supplement the local permanent workforce. The vast majority of the permanent workforce lives and spends locally. There are no fly-in, fly-out employees.
“In addition to mining job losses, when local production stops at New Acland, train and rail maintenance crews will be out of work. The laboratory analysing the coal will need less staff, the Port of Brisbane will have 70 less vessels calling each year affecting the local maritime industry,” Millner said.
Meanwhile, the company on Tuesday also reported a 36.5% drop in total saleable coal production for the quarter ended October, compared with the previous corresponding period, with coal production from Queensland falling by 60.4% to 468 000 t in the October quarter, while New South Wales production fell 23.3%, to 1.64-million tonnes.
Coal sales for the quarter were also down 31%, with Queensland sales declining 59.3%, to 453 000 t, and New South Wales sales declining 16.8%, to 1.85-million tonnes.
The decline in coal production resulted from the ramp-down of operations at New Acland, as well as the planned dragline shutdown at the Bengalla mine.