New Hope expansions on track

NEW Hope has multiple expansions on the go, with the ramp-up of the New Acland mine in southeast Queensland nearly complete, a new stacker installed at Brisbane port operator Queensland Bulk Handling and exploration continuing at several projects.

Blair Price

Ending its quarter on October 31, New Hope lifted raw coal production 16% year-on-year to 2.68 million tonnes, while saleable coal production rose 11% year-on-year to 1.4Mt.

Coal sales hit 1.48Mt, a 20% gain over the same period in 2008.

New Hope is the owner of Brisbane port operator Queensland Bulk Handling, which had 1.75Mt of throughput during the quarter, 14% better than last year.

While the New Acland open cut mine produced 4.26Mt in the 2008-09 financial year, the new ramp-up aims to lift capacity to 4.8Mt per annum before 2010.

During September the coal handling and processing plant was shut down for 12 days to upgrade its production capacity by 60%.

The $30 million Wetalla water pipeline project was also completed during the quarter, allowing the mine to receive pumped wastewater from Toowoomba Regional Council’s Wetalla water reclamation plant 46km away.

New Hope said the project allowed the mine to reduce its reliance on groundwater and surface water runoff.

Over to its QBH expansion project, New Hope said a new stacker had been installed, civil and mechanical works were well advanced and electrical work had started.

For exploration, New Hope drilled 6667m at its New Acland and Jeebropilly mines to improve resource definition.

The New Lenton project in EPC766 and EPC865 had 32.8km of 2D seismic surveying completed.

“The clarity of the seismic response along these sections is excellent and the results have confirmed the location and nature of structural features and the continuity of prospective coal resources further to the north and northwest of Mining Lease 70337,” New Hope said.

The company finished 1934m of drilling in the project during the quarter.

Samples of core were also sent for coal-to-liquids analysis.

New Hope said recent test results for CTL in both the USA and South Africa were encouraging and the technology would be further evaluated through the building of a 1 tonne per hour concept test plant.

The pilot plant will be at Jeebropilly, but a technology provider has not yet been selected.

New Hope also took up a 13% stake of Australia-listed Planet Gas during the quarter.

The company said its investment in the geothermal explorer was part of its involvement in the broader Australian energy sector.

Shares in New Hope are up 1c this morning to $4.36.

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