Dartbrook may stay underground for Australian Pacific Coal

DARTBROOK could be resurrected as an underground mine, Australian Pacific Coal has confirmed. 

The company told the stock exchange this week that it was undertaking a pre-feasibility study into whether limited underground mining was worthwhile. 

They will also examine how to manage the underground workings and infrastructure into the future in the review, which is slated for completion in September. 

But the company is also exploring how to turn the mine into an open cut plan using “modern, low impact open cut mining technologies not seen in the Hunter Valley previously”.

That work is due to finish in November, a month before an underground mining operations plan will be submitted. 

The mine changed hands in May after Anglo American announced on Christmas Eve 2015 it had agreed to sell 83.33 per cent of its interest to Australian Pacific Coal, whose managing director and chief executive at the time was Nathan Tinkler. 

Fairfax Media reported at the time the deal was for up to $50 million, starting with an up-front payment of $25 million in cash, before Anglo received perpetual royalties of $3 a tonne. 

The terms also handed Anglo a smaller slice of coal from elsewhere that was processed through Dartbrook’s washery.