Mataura lignite briquette plant gets reprieve

Last updated 05:00 21/06/2013

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Solid Energy's $30 million lignite to briquettes plant at Mataura, in Southland, has a reprieve, although the company will not be a long-term owner.

Local workers had feared it might be closed. Solid Energy acting chief executive Garry Diack said the coalminer did not see itself as a long-term owner of the plant, but Solid Energy and GTL Energy were continuing with the operations.

They wanted to demonstrate the plant's capabilities and technology and establish its value. The plant uses Australian company GTL Energy's technology to convert lignite to briquettes and had completed sustained production runs leading to the plant's commissioning in May.

The two companies are assessing commercial arrangements for its future.

GTL Energy leased the plant from Solid Energy and took over its operation in February after the state coalminer's financial woes deepened.

GTL Energy chief executive Fred Schulte said continuing to run the plant would underpin the use of the technology globally and was important for a large-scale project under development in Indonesia.

It would also show if there was a deep market in New Zealand for the briquettes.

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- Fairfax Media

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