New NZ mine could replace Pike River output

Hearings to determine if a mine project in New Zealand can go ahead will be held in June.

The resource consent hearings for Bathurst Resources Ltd’s Escarpment Mine Project will begin on 7 June, according to a statement submitted to the NZX by the dual-listed company based in Perth.

The hearings are expected to last three weeks and result in a decision from the three person Board of Inquiry by late July or early August.

In order for the first part of the mine plan to proceed, negotiations of access agreements with the Department of Conservation will be held.

The company’s plan is to mine as much as four million tonnes of high-grade coking coal per year.

About one million tonnes per year will be mined using open cut methods, which will be sent by lighter from Westport to New Plymouth for export.

The mine could potentially replace the output of the Pike River coal mine, which has been out of operation since the explosions that killed 29 men on 19 November.

Prime Minister John Key said he believes making the mine an open cut operation is "win-win" and following the receivers decision to sell the mine, Solid Energy has announced it is the only mining company with enough experience mining on the West Coast to be able to make the mine financially viable again.

But families of the entombed miners say they want a recovery of the remains before any mining is restarted.

The 24 resource consent applications for the Escarpment mine are in the name of Buller Coal Limited, according to

Buller is a Bathurst subsidiary and is seeking permission from the Buller District Council and West Coast Regional Council for the mine which covers 200 hectares on the southern Denniston Plateau.

"Should resource consents be approved and various land access arrangements finalised (including a concession from the Department of Conservation), Bathurst anticipates it will be able to start work on the Escarpment Mining Project in late 2011, provided there are no appeals to the Commissioners’ decision (or appeals are resolved)," chief executive Hamish Bohannan told

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