Whitehaven Coal granted breathing space on $1.2 billion debt

Whitehaven Coal has been granted approval to amend its $1.2 billion debt facility due to delays in the development of its Maules Creek mine project.

Under the revised conditions the first date for the interest coverage ratio test has been changed from December 2014 to December 2015.

The changes align with the expected commencement of production at the mine which is now set for the first quarter of 2015 at the earliest.

“The realignment is a sensible and practical outcome for Whitehaven and the Maules Creek project,” CEO Paul Flynn said in a statement to the ASX.

“I would like to thank our banking group for their continued strong support as we develop this world class project.”

The four lead lenders are Australia and New Zealand Banking Group , Commonwealth Bank of Australia , Macquarie Group and National Australia Bank .

The $766 million project has been a contentious issue within the community, with a spate of protests and court trials threatening to hamstring the mine’s development.

The Northern Inland Council for the Environment filed a challenge to appeal the proposed mine in July, challenging the validity of former federal environment minister Tony Burke’s decision to approve the project.

The group claim Burke approved the mine without viewing an adequate offset package.

The court’s decision on whether the project should proceed is pending.

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