SOLID Energy is handing over operations at its $NZ29 million lignite briquette production plant in Mataura to GTL Energy as the financially stricken state-owned coal miner looks to exit the investment.
The two companies have been in discussions since May on the commercial arrangements for the plant’s ongoing operations, and GTL is being given the opportunity to demonstrate the plant’s capabilities on a continuous production basis, and to establish the longer-term value of the plant, Solid Energy interim chief executive Garry Diack said.
“Although we will continue to mine and market New Vale lignite, it is now certain that Solid Energy will not be continuing with lignite upgrading in the foreseeable future,” Mr Diack said.
“While we continue to believe the lignite briquettes produced with GTL Energy’s technology have good potential, given our current status, Solid Energy does not see itself as the long-term owner of the plant.”
Solid Energy is still in talks with its banks and Treasury officials as part of a wide-ranging review of the business, which posted a $NZ40 million loss last year. It has mothballed its Spring Creek mine and dropped or put up for sale a range of projects, including plans to turn lignite into diesel.