Bathurst Resources not fazed by block on Sullivan purchase
Bathurst Resources has responded promptly to “the black mark against us” that arose from pollution from its Coalgate, Canterbury, coal-mine, but its operations won’t be affected by the Government blocking its purchase of a 19-hectare block of land on the West Coast’s Denniston Plateau.
The Australian-listed company was fined $10,500 late last year for letting sediment from the Coalgate thermal mine 70km inland from Christchurch leach into waterways, further threatening an already-endangered native fish species.
Chief executive Richard Tacon told Mining NZ the company regarded the unauthorised run-off of sediment as a “black mark against us”, and had hastened to put the matter right.
Run-off from the mine was detected no fewer than 14 times in the Bush Gully and Tara Streams, which flow into the heavily polluted Lake Ellesmere on the eastern coast.
Lake Ellesmere is the most polluted waterway in the country, and is presently the subject of an $11.5 million project funded 50-50 by the Crown and the iwi to try to clean it up.
The Coalgate run-off was found after heavy rains last winter and early spring, and Tacon conceded the subsequent Environment Canterbury (Ecan) charges were an embarrassment.
“We’ve fixed it up and had a couple of recent inspections by Ecan, and they’re very happy with the work being done,” Tacon said.
Ecan had earlier noted that Bathurst had “taken responsibility and are close to completing the system that should keep sediment out of the local waterways.”
In an unrelated decision, Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage in February this year blocked Bathurst from owning the old Sullivan mine on the Denniston Plateau that it bought as part of the extensive package from the former state-owned collier Solid Energy.
The timing of Sage’s announcement, soon after the Government’s clampdown on future oil and gas exploration, triggered fears that it was contemplating similar limits on the coal industry.
However Tacon told Mining NZ that Sullivan’s, which hasn’t produced coal for around 20 years, had been lumped in with the rest of its SE purchases to facilitate the sale, which had in turn been approved by the Overseas Investment Commission.
Tacon said the company had no plans to re-open Sullivan’s, and had no problem with Sage’s decision to block its purchase. The mine has since been sold to West Coast iwi Ngati Waewae.