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Central Qld coal mine sale could begin within weeks says report

Blackwater Coal Mine
Blackwater Coal Mine

A major mineral producer could soon start selling part of a Central Highlands operation.

Whitehaven Coal is rumoured to be planning to divest at least 20 per cent of its newly acquired Blackwater coal mine, 226km west of Rockhampton.

The proponent paid BHP US$4.1 billion (A$6.4B) for both Blackwater and the Daunia (169km southwest of Mackay) coal mine just months earlier.

“Whitehaven Coal is understood to be targeting August [2024] for an announcement surrounding a selldown of a stake in its Blackwater coal mine that it purchased as part of a broader A$6.4B acquisition from BHP,” News Limited reported.

“The company has signalled it was in talks with suitors to buy about 20 per cent of the mine but may sell down a larger holding.”

Two potential buyers from Japan and one from India were speculated to be deciding whether to acquire the stake at the time of publication.

If a 20 per cent selldown at Blackwater is successful, the deal is widely speculated to fetch up to US$500 million (A$760M). The money could be used to help establish a joint venture business model.

“That is logical given Blackwater’s quality … [it has] been in the market a long time and people are very comfortable using it,” managing director Paul Flynn previously said.

A total of 300 employees earlier rejected Whitehaven’s bid to introduce WorkChoices agreement offsets, which reportedly absorb future superannuation increases and strip those affected of up to $100,000 in accrued entitlements. This was feared to affect those planning to retire or accept a redundancy package.

Very negative feedback prompted management to withdraw its proposal and amend contracts to remove the so-called guarantee of annual earnings clause.

“All transferring Blackwater and Daunia staff can continue to enjoy their current entitlements once they become Whitehaven employees. Whitehaven will also apply this to open cut overseers,” executive general manager – operations Ian Humphris previously said in an internal email obtained by the Collieries’ Staff and Officials Association (CSOA).

CSOA congratulated employees on an “incredible win” at the time.

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