Hunter earthmover in financial trouble

THE downturn in coal mining is starting to take its toll on the Hunter Valley’s service sector – with the Bowditch & Partners Earthmoving group placed in receivership.
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Courtesy Bowditch

Lou Caruana

Bowditch has serviced local industry from Muswellbrook for almost 20 years. The news comes amid mounting speculation that Rio Tinto will divest part of its Hunter Valley coal operations and talk that governments should maintain investment in mining regions.

Morgan Kelly and Ryan Eagle of Ferrier Hodgson have been appointed as receivers of Bowditch and managers to its assets and undertakings.

This follows the appointment of voluntary administrators to the companies on March 18.

It means the receivers are now in control of its assets, undertakings and operations.

“The receivers intend to trade the companies in the ordinary course whilst the companies’ financial positions are assessed,” Ferrier Hodgson said.

“The receivers now control the companies’ assets and operations.”

The receivers are undertaking an urgent assessment of the companies’ operations and will update creditors in due course.

“At this stage, it is too early to advise creditors of the likely outcome of the receivership,” Ferrier Hodgson said.

The company is owned by Geoffrey Bowditch and his two daughters, Madeleine and Isabelle, according to its website.

In 2006 it won a mining contract and invested in new large mining equipment. It changed direction last year, deciding to move its assets into the dry hire market place.

Its mining support equipment ranges from a skid steer to a W700 front-end loader, 25-tonne articulated dump trucks and 777 rear dumps. It also has a range of excavators ranging from 20 tonne to 30t.

The Hunter Valley economy is closely tied to mining.

NSW Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee said the coal industry contributed more than $340 million directly into the Muswellbrook local government area.

Mine royalties paid to the NSW government reached almost $1.5 billion in 2011-12, so state and federal governments should invest in mining centres like Muswellbrook, he said.

“More public funding is needed from both tiers of government to address past neglect. It’s important that all governments continue to pull their weight,” he said.

Galilee said the state government should ensure that the broadened eligibility criteria for its Resources for Regions program should not result in less funding for Singleton and Muswellbrook, particularly given the lack of funding for the Upper Hunter through the NSW government’s Hunter Infrastructure Investment Fund.

“The NSW Minerals Council also welcomes the broadening of the program to include social infrastructure,” he said. “NSW miners are mostly locals who live and raise their families in local mining towns.

“As members of their local communities they are therefore affected by a lack of public services in some regional communities.”

“The Resources for Regions program started with a $160 million funding promise but so far only $9.9 million has been allocated, so it’s important that the NSW government deliver more than promises in the state budget.”