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Australian Pacific Coal Puts in Equipment Orders for Dartbrook Restart

Australian Pacific Coal Limited (AQC) has commenced drawdown of its debt facility, and is now embarking on a plan to re-start mining at the Dartbrook coal operation, in New South Wales, Australia, with an aim of producing first coal in the middle of 2024.

The company recently executed a three-year $60 million debt facility with Vitol Asia Pte Ltd to fund this redevelopment.

This has allowed Australian Pacific Coal, as the Dartbrook operator, to place firm orders for critical equipment and long lead items, including the remaining sections of the underground conveyor system and materials for the refurbishment of the above ground coal handling and preparation plant and train load out.

Crews have been recruited and will initially complete the construction works and subsequently resource the first two production panels. Production equipment has been secured for the first panel and equipment for the second panel is now on site.

AQC and its partners are currently evaluating a range of options to accelerate the restart work program and ramp-up period within forecast expenditure limits. The acceleration strategy that AQC will pursue with its partners is based on optimising the mine plan to allow for an additional continuous miner to operate in a second panel earlier than originally planned. The modifications are expected to result in increased production in year one.

Encouraged by earlier studies, AQC will also further examine the potential of Dartbrook mine to produce commercial quantities of semi-soft coking coal under the current mine plan, noting the substantial premium metallurgical coal is currently trading at when compared with thermal coal.

Australian Pacific Coal’s Interim CEO, Ayten Saridas, said: “This is an exciting period for AQC and the Dartbrook mine which is a high quality asset that has been in care and maintenance since 2006. Since we announced the completion of the Dartbrook restart funding package in January, we have focused on moving the project forward on multiple fronts. With the funds now fully available for the development, orders have been placed for critical equipment and long lead items, and we have begun recruiting additional key personnel.

“Our primary focus will be to bring forward certain ramp-up activities to allow us to commence mining operations in a second panel much earlier than originally planned. We remain confident that this will translate into an increase in production volumes in the project overall.”

AQC operates the Dartbrook coal mine, in the Hunter Valley, within the Dartbrook Joint Venture company, which comprises Australian Pacific Coal Limited (80%, via subsidiaries) and Tetra Resources Pty Ltd (20%, via subsidiaries).

The Dartbrook site has access to world-class infrastructure, a skilled workforce and support industries used by major mining companies in the region, AQC says. Dartbrook produces a high-quality thermal coal (Newcastle specification) that is typical of the Hunter Valley with the potential to produce some semi-soft metallurgical coal.

Source: International Mining