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31/8/2018 — Coal, Lignite and CSG/CBM
Bathurst freezes dividend despite stronger year
By Simon Hartley

Coal miner Bathurst Resources will not pay a dividend this year, with the cash held in reserve in case a claim against it through the courts for $US40 million ($NZ60.4 M) is successful.

Bathurst will also over the coming year buy back up to 75 million of its shares; which could potentially cost it $A11.2 M ($NZ12.2 M).

Last week Bathurst said it would appeal an “adverse judgement” from the High Court which would require it to pay the $US40 M to L&M Coal Holdings Ltd, which sold Bathurst its coal mining permits in the Buller region in 2010.

The High Court found a “performance trigger,” prompting L&M Coal's $US40 M claim, after more than 25,000 tonnes of coal was transported from the Escarpment mine permit areas, regardless of whether it was high grade coking coal for export, or thermal coal for domestic use.

In reporting its full year result this week, Bathurst outlined the dividend decision and share buy-back.

“The cash will be held in reserve and will be distributed later, once more certainty is gained post appeal,” Bathurst said. L&M Coal is reported to have said it would oppose any appeal.

Bathurst is now New Zealand's biggest coal miner and besides the Buller assets, it operates mines in Canterbury and Takitimu, in Southland.

For its year to June, Bathurst's revenue increased 15 to $47.8 million, posting a net profit of $5.55 M, against a $15.7 M loss the year before, BusinessDesk reported.

Bathurst cited strong export coal prices, new domestic coal contracts and good cost control for the improved earnings. Operating earnings, before interest, tax and changes in financial instruments lifted from $312,000 a year ago to $45 M. That included almost $43 M Bathurst booked as its share of the profit from BT Mining's 10 months of operation. The firm's cash flows were boosted by a $13 M dividend from the venture.

Bathurst considers BT to be a joint venture between it and Talley's, given unanimous agreement is required on major decisions. On a consolidated basis, with 100% of Bathurst and 65% of BT Mining, revenue for the year was $237.1 M and ebitdaf was $93.7 M.

Bathurst previously reported production of almost 2.07 million tonnes for the June year, including BT's output. Bathurst's share was 1.5 Mt, including 374,000t from its wholly-owned South Island domestic coal business.

Bathurst said the Stockton export mine delivered ebitda of $109.1 M and beat sales and production budgets.

While the company expects a modest increase in production in the current year, lower prices are expected to deliver earnings of between $62 M and $73 M.

The Waikato domestic business, also 65% owned through BT Mining, delivered ebitda of $34.3 M. The South Island domestic business, wholly-owned by Bathurst, delivered $16.7 M of earnings.

-Additional reporting by BusinessDesk.

*Simon Hartley is senior business reporter and assistant chief reporter for the Otago Daily Times.

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