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Coal Mining New Hope Bengalla Coal Mine

New Hope asks NSW for Bengalla Extension

New Hope Coal boss Rob Bishop says nuclear power is the world’s only realistic chance of net zero emissions as he prepares to ask the NSW government for permission to extend its Bengalla coal hub beyond 2037. The plan to expand coal output comes despite sliding prices for the energy commodity that drove a 46 per cent fall in New Hope’s revenue over the first-half.

Mr Bishop said he was focused on organic growth options over transformative mergers and acquisitions. The company spent $75 million increasing its stake in NSW coal miner Malabar Resources earlier this year and now owns 19.9 per cent.

New Hope also announced that it had acquired two undeveloped tenements on the western side of its flagship Bengalla mine in NSW. New Hope is approved to mine at Bengalla until 2039 but will likely exhaust the asset in 2037 at current extraction rates.

“[That] isn’t a long time away from an approvals perspective,” said Mr Bishop. “There is plenty of coal further out to the west… if the government supports us and the local community supports us, we want to be there providing that to the world.”

Mr Bishop said he firmly believed the world would continue to need coal for decades to come, despite efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr Bishop said nuclear was “the only way the world is going to get to net zero”, reflecting on federal opposition leader Peter Dutton’s plan to build nuclear power stations close to where coal-fired power stations operate today. He added the physical footprint of mining uranium for nuclear power would also be smaller than mining other energy commodities.

The miner recorded a $251.6 million interim net profit, its lowest in three years, but still the fourth-biggest in its history. New Hope had $296.1 million of cash on hand at January 31 and will pay shareholders a 17¢ interim dividend.

Historically, the Mt Pleasant coal resource – which is located directly north of Bengalla – was viewed as the most logical extension. Both assets were owned by Rio Tinto until they were split up 2015 and 2016, when Mt Pleasant was sold to Indonesian-backed company Mach Energy and Rio’s stake in Bengalla was sold to New Hope.

Mr Bishop hosed down the chances of Mach and New Hope doing a deal to bring the adjacent mines together.

“Historically, it probably did make sense for Mt Pleasant and Bengalla to be one mine, over time they’ve developed separately and a lot of synergies are gone,” he said.

Japan was New Hope’s biggest customer over the half, delivering 51 per cent of the miner’s revenue, down from 79 per cent in the same period of last year. Australian customers provided 14 per cent of revenue, up from 7 per cent, while China went from zero to 15 per cent of revenue.

Source: AFR

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