Mining magnate Nathan Tinkler, Whitehaven (WHC) Coal Ltd.’s biggest shareholder, said the start of its A$766 million ($810 million) Maules Creek mine in Australia has been delayed by a year as it awaits government approvals.
“We expected an approval on Maules Creek during the third quarter of last year and here we are in the third quarter of this year - it’s 12 months late,” Tinkler, who leads a group offering to buy the rest of Whitehaven in a A$5.3 billion deal, said in an interview in Sydney yesterday. The NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure didn’t immediately respond to an e- mail seeking comment on Maules Creek’s approval process.
Whitehaven bought the asset as part of its A$2.7 billion takeover of Tinkler’s Aston Resources Ltd. last year. Whitehaven said in December it expected the mine to commence production in mid-2013. Last month, the company said output may start during the first quarter of 2014.
Mining companies developing a record pipeline of projects in Australia, the biggest shipper of iron ore and coal, are struggling to bring new operations into production on time and on budget. The federal government in June temporarily halted an environmental approval process for a $10 billion coal mine in Queensland, owned by India’s GVK Group, over a disagreement with the state government.
Whitehaven rose 5.2 percent to A$3.85 at the close of trading in Sydney, the most since July 16.
“We could employ 1,000 people in the next three months if we had those approvals,” Tinkler said.
Maules Creek is expected to ramp up to output of 10.5 million metric tons by 2016, Whitehaven said last month, adding the timing of approvals was “extremely difficult to predict” in the current “dysfunctional interim NSW planning process.”
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