Australian mining company Bathurst Resources announced today it had revised its proposed Denniston coalmine, and reduced its initial coal output, to reduce the environmental impact.
As a result, a group of local residents has withdrawn its appeal.
The proposed mine has sparked high-profile environmental protests, and last month scientists from around New Zealand crawled over the plateau on their hands on knees looking for new species.
Bathurst chief executive Hamish Bohannan said today the company was now committed to moving the coal off the plateau by aerial ropeway, similar to the historic ropeway at the nearby Stockton open-cast mine.
It would also produce low-ash coal, negating the immediate need for a wash plant.
For the first few years, though, coal production would be lower than expected, about 500,000 tonnes a year, and transported off the plateau by truck either to the Westport port or by rail to Lyttelton. The output would increase once the ropeway was built.
Mr Bohannan said the company would still upgrade the harbour facilities at Westport.
The revised plan meant "lower operating costs and a significant reduction in environmental effects".
The project should be fully funded "after allowing for Bathurst's existing cash reserves and the US$90 million in borrowing facilities that Bathurst anticipates concluding with its partners in the coming months".
If the revised consents could not be obtained, the company would revert to the original plan.
"The original consents granted to Bathurst will not be surrendered," he said.
Other parties are continuing their appeal against the consents, mainly on environmental grounds.
- The Greymouth Star