Australian Pacific Coal (AQC) has announced that it has secured A$75m ($50m) in preliminary debt funding for the restart of its Dartbrook thermal coal mine.

The mine has not produced coal since 2007, when it was put under care and maintenance by previous owner Anglo American. AQC has a licence to operate the mine until at least 2027, and states that it will resume operations at the project by the end of 2023, with first coal sales and shipments set for Q1 2024.

The $50m in debt funding was supplied by an unnamed global commodity trading company. AQC stated that the project needs at least A$120m for capital funding and working capital to ensure a restart in operations. AQC has already provided $12m of this, with the $50m from AQC set to meet the estimated capital funding requirements through until first coal production in Q4 2023.

AQC interim CEO Ayten Saridas said of the project: “Whilst we have had to rely on our own balance sheet to fund the restart activities to date, it has enabled us to significantly de-risk the project and reflects positively on our progress. In particular, the de-watering of the Hunter Tunnel has been successfully delivered safely and on time.

“We have completed the Operating Joint Venture Agreement and have developed a revised Mine Plan which will result in improved yield potential and better product mix.”

The Dartbrook project is a joint venture between AQC and Tetra, with AQC holding an 80% working stake in the project and Tetra holding the further 20%. Remediation and refurbishment work at the mine is already under way. The Hunter tunnel, which links the mine to the coal handling and process plant, has already been successfully dewatered. Preparation is now under way for the installation of conveyor belt infrastructure in the tunnel to prepare it for a return to mining.

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