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(L-R) Kaitlin Hodby, Leah Thorpe, Layne O'Brien, Brooke Hodby and Maddison Thorpe Kaleb and Harmoni Mauloni Aboutusgenericimage_3 csg (L-R) Neve Flint, Brooke Roberts Holly Hill and Isabelle Elms fifo Mitchell Brown and friends dragline The Hamilton family Jo-Anne Burke, DB Scaffolding; Susan McGuire, Mayogroup Aboutusgeneric_1 Sgt Rob Smith and Constable Paul Muller The Smythe boys (L-R) Charlie Swaffield and Friend, Jayden and Eathan Little and Rylee Flint mining
(L-R) Kaitlin Hodby, Leah Thorpe, Layne O'Brien, Brooke Hodby and Maddison Thorpe Kaleb and Harmoni Mauloni Aboutusgenericimage_3 csg (L-R) Neve Flint, Brooke Roberts Holly Hill and Isabelle Elms fifo Mitchell Brown and friends dragline The Hamilton family Jo-Anne Burke, DB Scaffolding; Susan McGuire, Mayogroup Aboutusgeneric_1 Sgt Rob Smith and Constable Paul Muller The Smythe boys

Blair Athol to re-open in weeks?
LINC sale to mining group raises more questions than it answers.
Wednesday 18 February 2015  

THE future of the Blair Athol coal mine near Clermont remains up in the air today despite Linc Energy saying it has sold the mine, and all of its other coal assets, to little known company United Mining Group (UMG).

In 2013, Linc Energy set up a subsidiary called New Emerald Coal (NEC) to house all its coal assets and, on the face of it, the Blair Athol mine was the jewel in the crown.

Not only is Blair Athol the only asset Linc or NEC appear to own that has a highly understood measured coal deposit, it is in care and maintenance which means a return to production is relatively quick and easy.

However, in reality, it is not yet an asset owned by Linc or NEC - with purchase negotiations with its former owners the Blair Athol Joint Venture (BAJV) still not finalised more than 12 months after the deal was announced.

So, in fact, the sale announcement this week is actually of the ‘agreement to acquire’ Blair Athol coal mine not the mine itself, and it remains unclear what happens to the deal with UMG if, for whatever reason, an “agreement to acquire” is not reached between NEC and BAJV.

In response to queries by Shift Miner, a spokesperson for Linc said they had “no reason to expect that the agreement to acquire Blair Athol would not be completed”.

However, the sale to UMG does allow for such an eventuality.

“New Emerald Coal, under control of United Mining Group expects to complete its acquisition of the Blair Athol coal mine from the BAJV in the coming weeks and subsequently will re-commence operations on site,” Linc’s statement on the sale said.

“Under the revenue sharing agreement, Linc receives an indexed US$0.50 per product tonne of coal sold from the Blair Athol Project, if the Blair Athol acquisition completes.”

But assuming all those negotiations go to plan, the future for Blair Athol still remains uncertain with very few details available about the track record of the theoretical new owners UMG.

An online search of UMG and its Managing Director Gary Williams reveals that the United Mining Group entity was formed just three months ago and that Gary Williams was an executive Director of South East Asia Resources, which last month was put in administration.

However, despite that, Mr Williams says he plans to convert Linc’s assets into a functioning coal mining business.

“The acquisition of Linc Energy’s conventional coal assets will provide a platform on which United Mining Group plans to build a substantial Australian coal portfolio over the coming years,” Mr Williams said.

“ United intends to follow on from the good work started by NEC in its preparations for their commencement of operations at Blair Athol and plans to continue with development of Teresa as its next mine into production.

“United is continuing with its aggressive growth plans and is looking for additional synergistic acquisitions over the coming months.”


 

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