Solid Energy's New Vale mine performs well

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 09:11 06/09/2012
Solid Energy briquette plant near Mataura
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
BIG PLANS: The Solid Energy briquette plant near Mataura will be commissioned soon. It is a pilot project for the company and uses coal upgrading technology. The immediate market is Southland but the company is keen to export.

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Solid Energy's New Vale opencast mine near Gore performed well last year, meaning there would be no impending job losses at the site, company bosses say.

During the announcement of Solid Energy's 2012 results, chief executive Don Elder said the mine, in the Waimumu lignite coalfield, had met and exceeded plans for production.

It was a good result for the company, he said.

"It performed well and there are no current plans in our restructure to make any changes."

The results showed various projects Solid Energy had prioritised last year, which included the $29m briquette plant near Mataura, were completed.

The plant was expected to start operating in October.

When the plant was running it would produce 90,000 tonnes of the company's annual production of 4.5 million tonnes, he said.

Stringent auditing and review checks were required and this thoroughness had caused minor delays.

It was going through a commissioning phase, which involved testing each part of the plant separately.

It would be fully commissioned in coming weeks, and everything would be tested together.

The immediate target for the briquettes was Southland but there was potential to target international markets, Elder said.

‘The plant is a pilot . . . we already have plans for testing of those briquette to go to the export markets and if they prove themselves, it could mean future expansion."

He believed Solid Energy was the only company in the world that had low value coal upgrading technology, which would be used in the plant.

A number of other competing companies had fallen by the wayside, he said.

"We may be the first up and running and operating but we are not quite there yet."

The immediate plans for Southland lignite would determine if Solid Energy would release any of its land, about half of which was in Southland.

The company would examine all its land to find out where it may be no longer be needed or just used for access or with conditions attached.

"We own a fair amount of land in the Gore and Mataura areas associated with the minerals we acquired.

"As we move forward with the projects for those areas, it will become clear to us what land has priority for projects," Elder said. The decision would be made some time this year.

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- The Southland Times

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