Financiers save Tahmoor Mine from liquidators

Picture: Simon Bennett
Picture: Simon Bennett

SIMEC Tahmoor Coking Coal is no longer under threat of closure due to its owner's insolvency, with a financier agreeing to terms.

The mine's British billionaire owner Sanjeev Gupta faced legal action from Citibank, on behalf of Credit Suisse, last month in an attempt to wind up two of the operations through his GFG Alliance company: OneSteel Manufacturing and Tahmoor Coal.

The move could have seen the more than 400 workers at the Tahmoor mine out of work, as well as those at the Whyalla steelworks and its associated mines in South Australia.

Credit Suisse was attempting to recoup some of the money it was owed by breaking up Mr Gupta's Australian assets.

The legal action followed the collapse of one of the business' major lenders, Greensill, in March.

Mr Gupta's UK-based company GFG Alliance today announced LIBERTY Primary Metals Australia had agreed to refinance its Greensill exposure.

"The new financing is sufficient to pay out [GFG's] Greensill debt in full and to provide ongoing working capital for the LPMA group, which includes the integrated mining and primary steel business at Whyalla and its coking coal mine at Tahmoor," a spokesman said.

"The offer is subject to customary conditions precedent and documentation, a process which has commenced and is expected to be complete within four weeks.

"GFG Alliance is in continuous discussions with multiple financiers on a competitive basis for various parts of its business and is committed to securing sustainable funding solutions to replace funding provided by Greensill."

The refinancing comes on the back of the recent approval to extend mining works at Tahmoor Coal Mine.

The Independent Planning Condition approved the mine's proposal to extend mining operations between the Bargo and Tahmoor townships over 10 years and extract 33 million tonnes of run-of-mine coal.

There were 168 stringent conditions imposed on the approval, however, to improve environmental and social outcomes.

The conditions sought to avoid, minimise or offset adverse environmental impacts; set standards and measures for acceptable environmental performance; require avoidance or compensation for impacts to infrastructure and property; provide for regular monitoring, transparent reporting and adaptive responses; and provide for ongoing environmental management of the development.

Hume MP Angus Taylor welcomed the approval last month.

"The employment and economic benefits the extension will provide for the Tahmoor and Bargo townships is incredibly important," he said.

"I have always expected the mine to deal with subsidence issues in a timely and community-focussed way. The extension will make that focus even more important."

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