Tinkler sells Maules Creek stake for $370 million

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Billionaire Nathan Tinkler’s Aston Resources yesterday announced plans to sell a ten per cent stake in the Hunter Valley Maules Creek coal project for $370 million.

Tinkler paid Rio Tinto’s Coal & Allied $480 million for the entire project in early 2010.

The ten per cent sale represents an eightfold increase in the planned mine’s value in less than two years.

The stake will be sold to Japanese based J Power Australia, which currently buys about 10 million tonnes of coal a year from three Australian coal mines to fuel its power station.

In a statement to the Financial Review yesterday Tinkler said he was pleased with the deal.

“I am happy that a company with such prestige as J Power Australia could join the Aston share register,” he said.

Aston said the sale would lower the Maules Creek development risk, and said it hoped to secure all planning approvals for the mine by early 2012.

Last week Tinkler doubled the projected size of the contentious coal-loader he has planned for Newcastle.

The loader is planned to handle up to 100 million tonnes of coal a year and cost over $1 billion, but is still under technical and financial analysis.

Aston also signed a deal last week with an unnamed Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group shipper to secure up to 7.1 million tonnes of port capacity from July 2013 to the end of financial year 2016.

Aston CEO Todd Hannigan said today the sale left the company in a strong cash position, and he was confident Aston would avoid cost blowouts as Maules Creek construction approached.

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