Eastern to exploit encouraging coal results

QUEENSLAND energy company Eastern Corporation said yesterday it will acquire coal exploration interests at Broughton, adjoining Rio Tinto’s Hail Creek mine, where preliminary drilling results have indicated good coking coal characteristics.

Angie Tomlinson

In the latest stage of plans to develop a new open cut coal mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin, Eastern has given notice of its intention to acquire all the shares in Restpine - holder of coal exploration interests at Broughton and West Whareatea in the south island of New Zealand.

The existing Restpine shareholders have agreed to allow Eastern to exercise the option on the basis the purchase need not be effected before the end of November 2004.

Eastern will buy the Restpine shares for $500,000, comprising approximately $400,000 in cash and the balance in Eastern shares (at an issue price of 4 cents per share).

Eastern commenced a drilling program at Broughton in July to determine the quality and extent of a coking coal resource at the Broughton project.

Eastern chief executive Paul Williams said according to Eastern’s geological consultants, Minserve, preliminary laboratory results show Broughton would produce an export quality, hard coking coal similar to that being produced from Hail Creek to the north.

Coal tested in fresh floats had low ash, moderate sulphur, excellent plastic properties and good hardness and fluidity. Final results of the coal analysis should be available next month.

Discussions also continue with representatives of the New Zealand department of Conservation, with a view to gaining access to the West Whareatea site to commence a drilling program.

Eastern said it expected an initial program would commence in the next three weeks.