Newpac targets development and relocation improvements

NEW development equipment about to be put to work and longwall equipment just ordered will help push Resource Pacific's Newpac mine towards its long-term production target of 8 million tonnes per annum. In the meantime, the company is appealing to shareholders to approve a rights issue to aid company growth.
Newpac targets development and relocation improvements Newpac targets development and relocation improvements Newpac targets development and relocation improvements Newpac targets development and relocation improvements Newpac targets development and relocation improvements

National Mine Safety Framework steering group chairman Clive Brown

Angie Tomlinson

The Newpac mine is located in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales. Previously a bord and pillar operation, Newpac began longwall mining alongside the B&P operation in January this year.


Resource Pacific has experienced difficulties in its longwall block development, with manufacturing delays and "faults with new larger mining equipment" hampering completion of longwall block 2. A previous industrial dispute also delayed development.


Resource Pacific says it has now put those issues to bed with new equipment to accelerate rates and a new industrial agreement, which includes incentives, in place.


The new fleet of miners and shuttle cars includes four new Joy continuous miners and eight new shuttle cars which are currently being installed underground.


"Combined, the new equipment should double development rates to greater than 400 metres per week," Resource Pacific said in its annual general meeting presentation today.


The company is now anticipating the longwall will start on block 2 about mid-November this year.


To improve on longwall relocation times, Resource Pacific has ordered additional longwall equipment, including a second face line and drive equipment. The order has a 12-month lead time and is expected to reduce longwall move times to two weeks.


With port allocations still up in the air, Resource Pacific is anticipating a calendar year 2008 allocation of 3Mt.


It added there was "inequity with NCIG Port users absorbing 'other' shippers' allocation" and that there remained uncertainty over the allocation system in 2009 due to the delayed NCIG start date.


The company said it was expecting "major relief" in 2010 with the Newcastle port expansion.


Resource Pacific was also optimistic on prices in the forthcoming year, anticipating higher prices than recent midyear thermal contracts of $US66 - 70 per tonne.


Resource Pacific has convened a general meeting on October 31, where it hopes shareholders will approve a rights issue. While the company had previously announced its intentions for the issue, the plan was delayed due to New Hope Coal's announcement during September that it intended to make a bid for Resource Pacific.


The Resource Pacific board said it would respond once New Hope had delivered its bidder's statement; however, it has already labelled the bid's timing as "unattractive" and "opportunistic".


"The presence of New Hope Coal's bid does frustrate the ability to raise equity funds for the three months from 26 September unless shareholders approved the rights issue. With shareholder approval PFA banks accommodation would be required: uncertain and expensive," the company said in its presentation.


"The board is unanimously of the view that the rights issue is in the best interests of the company, with or without New Hope Coal's bid."