SPECIAL DELIVERY: Coal wagons being loaded for shipment to Newcastle before use by Aurizon to haul coal for mining company MACH EnergyNEIGHBOURING Hunter coal mines Bengalla and Mount Pleasant have ended a court dispute brought by Bengalla in April last year.
Under the agreement, Mount Pleasant’s owner MACH Energy has agreed to remove infrastructure it had put up on land that Bengalla argued would hinder its future development.
MACH had disputed Bengalla’s assertion,but after settling their differences, MACH has until the end of October 2022 to pull down the disputed rail infrastructure and Bengalla will provide it with an alternative site.
Bengalla has also agreed to pay MACH $12 million in instalments.
The Mount Pleasant mine was proposed for many years by Coal & Allied, which sold it to MACH for $220 million in 2016.
MACH began building infrastructure soon after, and last month, theQueensland-based rail company Aurizon announced the arrival of 32 coal wagons in Newcastle it said weredestined for MACH Energy, as part of a larger consignment of 284 wagons.
“The new wagons will enter service for our newest customers, AGL Macquarie andMACHEnergy, demonstrating the strong growth we have seen in our New South Wales Coal haulage operations since we started in 2005,” Aurizon NSW manager Catherine Baxter said.
MACH energy criticised the Bengalla court action from the start, saying it was entitled to build the infrastructure where it had.
The Bengalla action was brought by shareholder New Hope Corporation, which said that under Mount Pleasant’s 1999 development approval, the mine owners were required toconsultwith Bengalla over access and coal-carrying infrastructure.
In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, the two parties said the proceedings wereto be discontinued, with each party bearing its own costs.
The statement said Bengalla wouldsupport the two applications lodged by MACH to modify the Mount Pleasant development consent, to extend the life of the Mount Pleasant Mine from 2020 to 2026 and to construct its long-term rail and associated infrastructure.
It said Bengalla would provide land to MACH to buildits long-term rail and associated infrastructure.
MACH had agreed to remove its existing, short-term rail and other infrastructure, which waslocated south of Wybong Road, Muswellbrook, by October 31, 2022, in order to make way for continuation of Bengalla’s mining operations south of Wybong Road.
MACH would transfer the contested land to Bengalla by the same date.
Bengalla would pay$12 million to MACH, by instalments.
“The relocation of MACH’s Infrastructure from Bengalla’s approved expansion area was always intended under each mine’s relevant approvals and will allow operations at both mines to continue unimpeded,” the joint statement said.
“The continued operation of both mines will generate significant employment opportunities and economic benefits for the local community and the state of NSW.”