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Bathurst sinks into the red in first-half, still waiting for coal price to turn around

Bathurst Resources, which last year wrote off the value of assets covered by its Buller coal project, posted a first-half loss as it continues to wait for international coal prices to improve.

The Wellington-based company reported a pre-tax loss of $6.9 million in the six months ended Dec. 31, compared to a pre-tax profit of $8.4 million a year earlier, it said in a statement. That included net finance costs of $864,000 and a $224,000 impairment charge. Revenue from several smaller mines in Westland and Southland slipped 4.3 percent to $26.5 million.

The company has hunkered down over the past year, laying off staff, trimming its board size and writing off the entire value of its Buller mine assets as it waits for coking coal prices to improve. The miner had a protracted battle to win resource consent for the Denniston Plateau project as environmental groups opposed the application all the way to the Supreme Court.

"Work at Escarpment commenced on 1 July and has focused on the installation of water treatment systems, haul rods and dump areas," Bathurst said. "The ramp up to full commercial production at Escarpment will be deferred until the international coking coal market recovers."

The company posted an operational cash outflow of $2.2 million in the half, stemming the decline in the second quarter, compared to an inflow of $734,000 a year earlier. That left it with cash and equivalents of $2.9 million as at Dec. 31, and it held a further $3 million in short-term deposits.

Shares of Bathurst jumped 20 percent to 5.9 cents and are up 63 percent this year.