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Australian Pacific Coal (AQC) has increased its stake in the joint venture (JV) with M Resources at the Dartbrook mine in New South Wales, Australia under a restructured agreement.

As per the revised agreement, AQC will raise its direct working stake in the project from 50% to 80% and its net economic interest had increased from 50% to 70%.

The mine is expected to begin operations in the fourth quarter of this year.

Tetra will remain a joint venture participant and the mine manager and operator with a 20% working stake.

Subject to shareholders’ approval, Trepang will no longer have any interest in the JV. Furthermore, M Resources will secure a 10% indirect economic interest in the JV through AQC.

The JV is now finalising funding arrangements for future restart capital expenditure and working capital needs.

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By GlobalData

A significant portion of the funding package is expected to be linked with new coal marketing and offtake agreements with an international party.

The Dartbrook mine is claimed to have a run-of-mine coal reserves of about 470 million tonnes with saleable reserves of 370 million tonnes.

A steady production of about 3 million tonnes per annum is also expected. The coal is said to be of ‘high-quality’, which is typical of Hunter Valley specification.

AQC owns coal handling and processing plant, which plays a critical role and negotiations are taking place for rail and port access.

Australian Pacific Coal Interim CEO Ayten Saridas said: “We have maintained our focus on achieving the commercial and operational milestones to restart production at the Dartbrook mine in 2023 and I am pleased with the excellent progress made to date.

“The underground remediation works required to reopen the mine are on track and the team has continued work on the mine plan which has indicated the potential for improved yields and a better mix of coal quality that could ultimately result in better margins on coal sales. With the new JVA in place, AQC is in a stronger position having increased its net economic interest from 50% to 70% which is a significant positive outcome for our shareholders.

“We are also well advanced in implementing the funding package for the remaining restart capex. This will likely be agreed with a third party in conjunction with a new coal marketing and offtake agreement, which we anticipate announcing in the near future.”