BMA holds on to Gregory Crinum

THE BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance has given up trying to sell its Gregory Crinum complex in Queensland after improvements in the underground mine made the operation more economic.
BMA holds on to Gregory Crinum BMA holds on to Gregory Crinum BMA holds on to Gregory Crinum BMA holds on to Gregory Crinum BMA holds on to Gregory Crinum

BHP Billiton's Crinum longwall.

Lou Caruana

The company – which flagged the sale of the assets in February as part of a strategy of reducing the number of underperforming mines in its portfolio – has decided it could eke more value out of the operation by optimising its performance instead of selling it at fire sale prices.

A BHP Billiton spokeswoman told ILN: “BHP Billiton confirms that the company has decided not to proceed with the divestment of the Gregory Crinum Mine complex. The complex is owned and operated by the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance.

“This decision is a result of a strategic review of the mine, including investigation of potential divestment. The review concluded that shareholder value is maximised by retaining the asset within the BMA portfolio.

“In October last year, BMA closed the Gregory open cut mine due to its unprofitability. Recent operational improvements at the Crinum underground mine support the company's decision to continue to operate the site.”

Reports surfaced in May that BMA was ready to offload Gregory Crinum to emerging coal player Linc Energy.

Linc, which owns the Teresa coal prospect in the Bowen Basin, is understood to be keen to start developing coal assets along with its coal-to-gas projects.

The BHP Billiton spokeswoman told ILN: “In February, we said any decision to proceed with divestment or otherwise was unlikely for six to nine months, and would depend on market interest and other commercial factors.”

BHP Billiton’s Queensland Coal production in the June 2013 quarter increased by 54% from the prior corresponding period to an annualised rate of 61 million tonnes.

A longwall move at Crinum and scheduled maintenance at Goonyella Riverside and Peak Downs will also impact production in the September 2013 quarter, the company said.