The company has finished recruiting new employees, despite some minor delays due to the holiday season, and the mine medical adviser is reviewing medicals for shortlisted candidates, the company said.
“We are still hopeful of completion in the first quarter, but this is dependent on finalising government regulatory process,” the company said.
The Blair Athol recruitment process is progressing well. An impressive team of candidates has been shortlisted and NEC’s senior management team is looking forward to starting employment contract discussions.
Reference checks have been completed and the majority of medicals are also done.
Candidates are expected to be advised of recruitment outcome by early February and employment contract discussions should also begin at around the same time.
The employment commencement date is being finalized, the company said.
NEC signed agreements to acquire the mine in October 2013, after the previous owners Rio Tinto Coal had ceased mine production in November 2012.
The acquisition was undertaken at no upfront cost to NEC and the vendor will compensate the company for existing rehabilitation costs.
NEC will reopen the mine with a view to produce up to 3 million tonnes of thermal coal per year via its low-cost, targeted mining operations.
The acquisition gives NEC the ability to move quickly into production and its management team has been deployed to deliver a fast start-up and path to positive cash flow for the business.