Hamish Bohannan has resigned from Bathurst Resources after five years leading a coal miner whose expansion has been put on hold pending a recovery in coal prices.
Bohannan joined Bathurst in 2008 and played a key role establishing the company as a coal producer and driving the heavily contested consenting process for its Escarpment project on the Denniston Plateau. The company has since restructured its operations, cut staff, trimmed the size of its board and put the Escarpment mine on hold and Bohannan “has now decided to seek a fresh challenge,” the company said in a statement.
He will be replaced by chief operating officer Richard Tacon, a 30-year industry veteran who joined Bathurst in 2012.
Tacon “has played an integral role in reviewing productivity and efficiencies across the operations to more closely align the company’s capabilities with current market conditions and to ensure Bathurst is well positioned for a recovery when global coal prices improve,” chairman Malcolm Macpherson said.
“His key role will be to grow the domestic business whilst preserving shareholder value in the Buller coking coal project during this period of low commodity pricing,” Macpherson said.
Shares of Bathurst last traded at 3.6 cents, valuing the company at $34 million, and have slumped 81 percent in the past two years.
The company maintains small-scale thermal coal operations in the South Island for domestic consumption but its major opportunity was extracting high grade coking coal, used in steel-making, for export. The sustained downturn in global coking coal prices, which also underlies state-owned coal miner Solid Energy’s current financial difficulties, has delayed further development of the Denniston Plateau mine at Escarpment.