Australian Pacific Coal (AQC) has announced that its Dartbrook Joint Venture (JV) with Tetra Resources, has finalised a three-year, approximately $90 million debt facility with Vitol Asia (Vitol) for the restart of the Dartbrook coal mine.

The terms of the binding debt facility agreement, first announced on 30 November 2023, were finalised and executed following a period of due diligence. The USD$60 million facility will cover forecast restart expenditure at Dartbrook through to first coal, including equipment acquisitions and completion of remediation works, and the acquisition of additional mining systems during ramp-up to achieve full capacity.

The debt facility will be structured as a loan notes issuance agreement and includes the following terms:

  • Three-year facility with repayments commencing after an initial grace period to allow for the mine production start-up
  • Senior security over the JV assets and shares in the JV entities with an AQC parent company guarantee
  • Subordination of shareholder Loans
  • Interest rate of one-month SOFR plus a margin
  • Repayment is set-off against coal sales; there are no penalties for early repayment

The Dartbrook JV has entered into a Coal Sales and Marketing Agreement with Vitol for all Dartbrook coal production, including assigning coal Marketing Rights to Vitol for the life of the mine (including any extensions).

Australian Pacific Coal’s Interim CEO, Ayten Saridas, said that this is a landmark event for Australian Pacific Coal, its shareholders, and the Dartbrook mine. 

“The USD$60 million restart funding package we have agreed with Vitol opens the door for Dartbrook to restart production after 18 years in care and maintenance,” Ms Saridas said. 

“Our ability to secure debt funding for Dartbrook during a period of high inflation and global tension is testament to the quality of the project, the vision and work ethic of the team of people bringing it back to market, and the commitment of our shareholders.

“We are excited with the potential of the Dartbrook mine and we are focused on bringing it back into production and delivering jobs and economic benefits for the people of the Hunter Valley.”

Ms Saridas said that with the restart funding package committed, AQC can now accelerate work onsite and complete underground works, including the installation of the new conveyor system, refurbish the CHPP and load out facilities, and procure the continuous miners and additional mining equipment.

“Our operations team is currently reviewing the schedule to first coal and we will update the market on project timing in our next quarterly report, due in January 2024.

“From the moment we engaged with Vitol, they have seen the potential value we can create at Dartbrook. They have been thoroughly professional during this process and we are looking forward to working closely with them in coming years.

“Vitol will play a key strategic role in the development of the project following their appointment as sole marketing agent for Dartbrook coal. Dartbrook product is very high quality and we anticipate strong interest from export markets.

“With their global network and experience, Vitol will also provide assistance to the Dartbrook JV as we begin the process of sourcing a working capital facility prior to achieving full production.”

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