No further appeal has been lodged over a New Zealand Environment Court decision to grant resource consent to Bathurst Resources’ Escarpment Coal Project. The company plans to begin development as soon as the final sign-off is received.

The Escarpment project forms part of the Buller Coal Field on the edge of the Denniston Plateau on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

Last week Bathurst announced agreement with one appellant, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand, under which Forest and Bird agreed not to appeal the Environment Court’s final consent decision for the Escarpment mine. With the appeal period lapsed, no further legal challenges remain.

The next stage before mining can commence is already well under way, say company officials, namely the submission of 25 management plans to the Department of Conservation (DOC), Iwi and the local councils. The last of these plans are expected to be signed off on by mid-January 2014.

Following the certification of all plans, an Authority to Enter and Operate will be issued by DOC so mining earthworks can commence. The mine access road has been upgraded with this work completed in October.

Bathurst Resources managing director Hamish Bohannan says, “This lapse of the appeal period and effective the removal of the legal uncertainty is a significant milestone. Development will begin as soon as final sign-off is received and we expect to reach steady state production in the June quarter of 2014. The project hosts some of the highest quality metallurgical coal in the world and will be producing at 500,000 tonnes annually by 2015 and 1.5 million tonnes by 2016.”

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