New Zealand’s largest open cast coal mine, Stockton in the Buller coalfield of the West Coast, performed above target for its new owners in the December quarter.
Majority shareholder in the BT Mining partnership – Bathurst Resources Ltd (ASX: BRL) – said Stockton overburden movement and coal production exceeded budget and six export shipments of coking coal were made. Minority partner in BT Mining is the NZ food processing company Talley’s.
Bathurst said changes in pit layouts at Stockton were starting to show good results with overburden removal daily rates increasing.
For the quarter Stockton produced 900,000 tonnes of product, while the North Island domestic mines of Rotowaro and Maramarua – both in BT Mining – produced 850,000t of product and Bathurst’s 100% owned South Island domestic mines, Takitimu and Canterbury, achieved 400,000t of product.
Bathurst’s equity share of production for the three months was 1.6 Mt.
The continuing improvement in global coking coal prices was reflected by the fact that Stockton achieved a margin of $NZ95/t, while the North Island domestic output margin was $NZ29/t and South Island $NZ30/t.
The North Island operations for the quarter for BT Mining saw production above budget at Rotowaro, partly due to the fact it provided replacement coal sales for Maramarua as a result of a known fault at the mine found to be lying at a flatter angle than modelled.
With the addition of inclement weather the Maramarua mine was unable to operate continuously. Bathurst said a review and drilling led to a mine plan for resupply. The operation also had a shortage of operators and recruitment for a third crew was advanced at quarter end.
The Takitimu operation in Southland operated to budget and also supplied customers for the Canterbury operation which at times was impacted by heavy weather.
Coal demand for milk production was down due to dry weather in the South.
Bathurst said the Canterbury operation was also affected due to “the lingering effects of a poor stripping performance.”
The Sullivan coal mine on the West Coast, also purchased by BT Mining, was undergoing an updated pre-feasibility study to reflect increasing the resource area.
“Work is progressing to gather further coal washability data based on the coal from Denniston (Plateau) being processed by the Stockton wash plant,” Bathurst said.
The company said its share of sales revenue for the quarter was $NZ70.165 million.