Buller mine delay costs Bathurst

Coalminer Bathurst Resources has posted a $188.9 million loss for the year to June.

The loss after tax is mainly because of slashing the value of its investment in the Buller coal project by $450m after the slump in international coal prices forced it to delay the development of the Escarpment mine on the West Coast.

The project covers 10,000 hectares of exploration and mining permits on the Buller coalfield, including the Escarpment development project and the adjacent operating Cascade mine.

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The company's domestic operations had revenues of $55.7m against overall operating expenses of $59.3m, resulting in an operating loss before tax of $3.6m (excluding one-off items of impairment and fair-value gain of deferred consideration).

The company said today that the impairment of the book value of the Buller coal project was taken because of independent analysts' consensus on coking coal prices, delay in development and production at the Escarpment mine on the Denniston Plateau and the higher than expected New Zealand dollar.

Offsetting that partly was a $169m fair-value gain on deferring the project, as the mining plan had no production scheduled beyond the construction phase until international coking coal prices improved.

Subsequently, no royalties or financial obligations linked to shipments of export coal would fall due in the foreseeable future.

Managing director Hamish Bohannan said the company was disappointed at deferring the Escarpment project, but it was seeing the result of building a robust domestic business until it could ramp up Escarpment to full production.