February 11, 2020
by Anne Miller
Moreton Resources has withdrawn its application to mine coal at Taabinga, just outside Kingaroy.
A spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy confirmed on Tuesday the application for a mining lease had been voluntarily withdrawn on February 5.
The application was submitted by MRV Tarong Basin Pty Ltd, a fully owned subsidiary of Moreton Resources, in October 2016.
The proposal was to mine thermal coal from an open cut mine 10km south of Kingaroy.
Moreton Resources had estimated the mine would have a 25 to 30-year lifespan and contain an estimated 517.5Mt of coal.
The proposal was plagued with controversy from the start, with local residents organising protest meetings against the mine, citing issues with dust, ground water, loss of productive farmland and wildlife habitat.
Stanwell Corporation, owners of the nearby Tarong Power Stations and Meandu Mine, also indicated it was not interested in buying coal from the new mine.
Export sales would have required the rebuilding of a railway link to the coast, making use of the South Burnett Rail Trail, or perhaps the construction of a long slurry pipe.
Moreton Resources’ history in the area – it was formerly known as Cougar Energy – did not help its public image, either.
A portion of the Mining Lease Application area included land which Cougar Energy had used – and Moreton later rehabilitated – for a failed underground coal gasification (UCG) project.
Moreton Resources also has projects in the Granite Belt, Surat Basin and Bowen Basin.
The Granite Belt silver mine project near Texas was key to financing the company’s other coal assets.
However, ongoing legal cases involving both this and R&D funding linked with the Cougar Energy UCG project put brakes on the company’s hoped-for expansion.
The ASX queried Moreton Resources on February 3 about negative operating cashflows, noting that Moreton had reported cash at the end of the quarter of $0.00.
Moreton responded on February 7 saying it was awaiting the result of the legal cases, in which it expected favourable outcomes, which would allow it to restart its Granite Belt operations.
It was also negotiating with existing lenders with a view to refinancing loans and potential debt restructuring.
“The company has a feasible strategy to bring the Granite Belt Project to nameplate capacity, deliver substantial operating cashflow to shareholders over an eight-year mine life and facilitate development of coal assets for future growth,” the Moreton statement read.
The company also notified the ASX on Tuesday that non-executive director Wayne Penning had resigned from the company. Mr Penning joined the Moreton Board in December 2019.
southburnett.com.au has approached Moreton Resources for comment.