Monday 24th January 2011 1 Comment
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State-owned Solid Energy said it will lodge resource consents with Gore District Council and Environment Southland early this year to build and operate a demonstration briquetting plant at the former Mataura mine site in Southland.
Any decision about the viability of a commercial plant will be made once the demonstration plant has successfully produced low-moisture, higher-energy briquettes.
Solid Energy said today that the former Mataura mine site was the preferred location because it was close to a reliable power supply, had a range of transport options nearby and was already zoned industrial with some existing consents for a coal operation.
The plant will supply the New Zealand industrial market with briquettes and trial their value for export.
The company said last May that it was investigating the former Mataura mine site as part of a pre-feasibility study looking at where to locate a new briquetting plant for lignite upgrading.
An issue was whether the soil was stable as the top layer was removed during opencast mining to get to the coal seam.
The proposed plant, which would be capable of producing up to 100,000 tonnes of briquettes a year from Southland lignite for export and commercial use, is a joint venture with American-based GTL Energy, and one of three lignite conversion projects proposed by Solid Energy in Southland.
Solid Energy's general manager of new energy, Brett Gamble, said today that the company considered the former Mataura Paper mill site, the Mataura mine site, and the company's existing New Vale Mine before settling on the Mataura mine site as its preferred option.
"The paper mill option was difficult because it required significant revamping and reconfiguration to accommodate process equipment.
"The cost and duration of getting additional, reliable power supply to New Vale Mine also made that option less attractive at this time," Gamble said.
The Mataura mine operated between 1951 and 200 and was purchased by Solid Energy in 1996. It is on the southeastern edge of the Mataura coalfield, which is southwest of the Mataura township.
New Zealand has 10 to 15 billion tonnes of lignite resources, mostly located in Southland.
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