Baker picks out Hillalong
ISAAC Mayor identifies mine project that Rio walked away from last year, as one to watch.
Wednesday 18 May 2016
Recently re-elected Isaac Mayor Anne Baker has singled out the Australian Pacific Coal (APC) Mt Hillalong project near Nebo as one to watch from a suite of developing coal plays in the Northern Bowen Basin.
According to the Mayor, the project - which is yet to get its environmental approvals or mining lease - is a good chance of generating up to 400 jobs locally.
“Around 75 percent of the workforce is expected to come from the Isaac, Whitsunday and Mackay region,” she told Shift Miner.
“This is an excellent economic boost for local workers, their families and the Isaac region as a whole, and we will monitor the progress of the Mount Hillalong Coal Project and look forward to the potential benefits it will deliver our people and economy.”
While Mayor Baker has yet to have direct meetings with the mine's owners she is confident that things are improving in the coal sector, which can only be a good thing for the proponent.
From a council perspective she says they are determined not lose sight of the problems that prevailed during the last mining boom and have taken steps to make sure they don't happen again.
“It's slowly but surely improving," she said.
"We just need to mindful that these projects take time to go through the process of approval, it is steady as she goes, and there is no need to panic.
“We all need to learn from these mining cycles, and one of the things we learnt in the last boom was around accommodation.
"Which is why four years ago we bought the last remaining residential real estate in Moranbah that we can make available, if and when, there is another upturn in the mining sector."
The Hillalong deposit is located adjacent to Rio Tinto’s existing Hail Creek mine. During 2015, the deposit was significantly drilled by a joint venture between Rio Tinto and APC.
However at the onset of the downturn, Rio decided not to exercise its right to acquire the deposit.
“After the completion of exploration work on Hillalong and subsequent review of results, Rio Tinto has decided not to exercise the option to acquire the tenement,” they said in June last year.
“Accordingly, we will let the agreement lapse.”
The decision by Rio Tinto was a damaging blow to APC, who at the end of April 2015 had just $300,000 in working capital with which to navigate the terrible conditions in the mining cycle.
Following Rio’s announcement, APC Chairman, Peter Ziegler, said they were looking at their remaining options in the wake of what was a “significant” announcement.
However since that time, APC has been rescued by a group of Northern Territory investors who were cobbled together by former Middlemount mining electrician and billionaire Nathan Tinkler.
The investment triggered a major rally in the companies share price and a major improvement in its operating cash. At the end of April this year the company had more than $30 million in cash, even after they announced that it had secured the funding necessary to purchase Marubeni Coal Pty Ltd’s 16.67% interest in the Dartbrook Joint Venture in NSW.
Despite its activity elsewhere APC has said in the past, its flagship project is its Cooroorah tenement between Curragh and Jellinbah mines near Blackwater.That project has advanced to the mineral development licence stage and has a deposit of around 125 million tonnes of metallurgical and thermal coal, with about 70 million tonnes rated as indicated under the JORC code for reporting on mineral deposits.