The first shipment of Cascade material left Westport over the weekend bound for the Port of Taranaki, where it will be discharged pending a bulk shipment to the final customer in Asia.
The shipment used existing storage and ship loading facilities at Westport.
Bathurst chief executive Hamish Bohannan said: “It was fantastic being part of the community on the breakwater watching the first coal leaving Westport this morning on its way to Taranaki.
“This was an important event for Bathurst and Westport.”
The second shipment, which left site three weeks ago, is expected to leave the Port of Lyttelton in containers later this week. This trial parcel of very low ash coal from Cascade is bound for a ferro-silicon producer in Western Australia.
The Cascade open cut is the first production block in Bathurst’s South Buller operations adjacent to the Escarpment and Coalbrookdale blocks.
Cascade has historically produced approximately 45,000 tonnes per annum of high value low contaminant coal for the local industrial market.
The fleet and workforce at Cascade have been expanded to allow coal production to be increased to provide initial export capacity.
Towards the end of the quarter, stripping was accelerated in anticipation of increasing production to a rate of 75,000tpa. Mine planning is now working on increasing to about 100,000tpa over the next six months.
Additionally, expansion into parts of the neighbouring Escarpment and Coalbrookdale blocks is being investigated, as both blocks contain resources which are better accessed from Cascade.