Last Friday completed a busy week for Bathurst Resources Ltd (ASX & NZX: BTU) in reporting progress on both its court challenges with environmental groups and progress on transferring its stock exchange domicile from Australia to New Zealand.
Bathurst said that the High Court in Christchurch issued a generally favourable decision for the company on the appeal by Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society New Zealand Inc against the interim decision of the Environment Court in relation to granted resource consents for the Escarpment coal project on the Denniston Plateau.
The High Court dismissed three of the five alleged points of law in their entirety and on the remaining two, the court asked the Environment Court when it reconvenes this week that:
- It keeps separate its consideration of mitigation and offsets (to clearly define that the term ‘mitigation’ relates to the direct effects of mining activities and that ‘offsets’ relates to BTU’s proposed biodiversity enhancement package).
- Have regard to the possibility of future mining within Bathurst’s other mining permits on the Denniston Plateau when imposing consent conditions.
Bathurst managing director Hamish Bohannan said the High Court has refused to make a finding - as sought by Forest & Bird - that greater weight should be placed on mitigation as opposed to offsets.
Bohannan said the matters raised by the High Court can be fully addressed in the Environment Court during the one day hearing scheduled for this Wednesday.
Bathurst also reported on the High Court having dismissed the appeal by Royal Forest and Bird against the decision of the Environment Court of the relevance of the Sullivan permit in relation to the resource consents for the Escarpment project.
In his decision, Justice John Fogarty concluded that there was no material error in law in the decision not to consider the cumulative effects of the Sullivan permit which adjoins Escarpment.
He is expected to announce his ruling on the remaining appeals on the Environment Court’s interim decision “shortly.”
Sullivan is a coal licence held by Solid Energy.
Hamish Bohannan, said this decision puts Bathurst another step closer to developing Escarpment.
“We are working hard to develop a project that will provide social and economic benefits to the West Coast, with a compensation package and rehabilitation programme that deliver a net environmental gain”.
Last month Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith granted the access arrangement for Escarpment.
Meanwhile, an update on the scheme of arrangement to re-domicile Bathurst from Australia to NZ that was announced on April 2, has seen a scheme booklet released to the market on May 14.
Bathurst said on Friday that one of the conditions for the re-domicile was the consent of Christchurch-based L&M Coal Holdings Ltd to the transfer of obligations under the Buller Coal Ltd share sale agreement from Bathurst to Bathurst Resources (New Zealand) Ltd (BRL), which will be the new parent company of the Bathurst Resources group.
The Buller Coal share sale agreement was detailed back in June 2010.
Bohnannan said L&M has agreed that these obligations may be assumed by BRL.
Further, L&M has agreed to defer the next $2.05 million deposit payment for the acquisition of the New Brighton permit until December 31.
A shareholders’ meeting to approve the re-domicile will be held in Perth this Thursday.
The company said it was developing Escarpment as an export coking coal project that would have significant benefits, including:
- NZ$45 million per annum in royalties & taxes.
- 225 direct jobs and about 800 indirect jobs.
- 1 million tonnes pa of export coking coal.
- NZ$1 billion into NZ economy over the 5-6 year life of mine.