March 7, 2016
Moreton Resources is beginning the long process of getting permits and approvals for its proposed Coolabunia coal mine.
The company – which opened an office in King Street, Kingaroy, recently – also expects to be able to announce the outcome of negotiations that began last year to bring on board project partners.
In a statement to the ASX on Monday, Managing Director Jason Elks said Moreton’s fully-owned subsidiary, MRV Tarong Basin Coal Pty Ltd, was “continuing to advance” its South Burnett prospects.
“(This) means commencing permitting and approvals for a Mining Licence for a defined area of MDL385 and EPC882 within the South Burnett,” Mr Elks said.
“This will involve over the coming 12-24 months a number of legislative approvals processes and, as such, the company will keep shareholders advised upon its advancements as this process continues.” .
He said MRV Tarong Basin Coal would decide over the next few weeks whether to apply for a ‘Co-ordinated Project’ status through the Department of State Development, based upon the following criteria:
“Equally the company also has the option of applying for a Voluntary Environmental Impact Statement approval, under Sections 69 to 72 of the relevant Act which if approved, would allow the Company to voluntarily prepare an EIS for the project, without having to submit an EA application at this stage,” Mr Elks said.
“The company is currently assessing which option it will pursue in the coming weeks.
“The company is seeking to advance this important project while maintaining our fundamental commitment to engage, consult and liaise with the community within the South Burnett and as such will endeavour to continue to progress community consultation and awareness.”
Mr Elks said Moreton was confident about its options, either as a total export operation or local opportunity.
“There are very few operations in this market that could offer such low stripping ratio, costs and volume that we think will certainly interest export off-take partners,” he said.
He admitted there was “reluctance” within the government-owned corporation (GOC) operating within the Tarong Basin to engage (ie. Stanwell) however Moreton still saw a strong position for an alternate fuel supply given the long history of “challenging and abandoned projects run by the GOC since late 1997”.
He also pointed to comments by Stanwell in 2013, which indicated it had cut 64 jobs and shut two power generators due to cost-cutting exercises, followed by the statement that “the company is currently losing money because coal deposits are too deep and operating costs are too high”.
“Whilst the running of Meandu Mine sits with the GOC, our experience tell us when your strip ratio gets worse and your mining operation gets deeper, you will continue to struggle with costs and, interestingly, the GOC in the last couple of years since those statements, has significantly reduced its coal supply into the power stations, and government records clearly show the strip ratio is exceptionally poor for FY2015,” Mr Elks said.
“However, we continue to focus on our project, as long term any offshore option will certainly make far greater returns for our stakeholders, both shareholders and the community which is where a large part of our focus is.”