Bill McKibben’s current speaking tour has put divestment from fossil fuels firmly on the agenda in this country. CANA strongly supports this campaign, and naturally, our focus is on divestment from coal. This blog post is about the need to divest from one particular coal company: Bathurst Resources.

Bathurst Resources is an Australian mining company that is trying to relocate to New Zealand, primarily to undertake coal mining – although we understand that they also have gold mining interests on the West Coast. Their flagship project – at least, it would be their flagship project if they could ever get it started – is their plan to rip apart the beautiful and biodiverse Denniston Plateau on the West Coast for coal.

Bathurst’s ambition is to become a large coal mining company. And Bathurst has powerful friends. Prime Minister John Key turned up to open Bathurst’s Wellington office – and 260 anti-coal activists turned up to tell him why that was a really bad idea.

So, for all those reasons, Coal Action Network Aotearoa regards Bathurst Resources as an opponent we need to take seriously. Fortunately, if ironically, we have a powerful ally: Bathurst’s investors, who have become increasingly irked at Bathurst’s protracted failure to deliver them the promised returns: something which has been reflected in Bathurst’s falling share price.

Bathurst’s Mines and Plans

Note: This article makes use of the excellent information on the CoalSwarm Bathurst Resources page. Just as that’s the place to go for comprehensive information on Bathurst, we encourage you to use the New Zealand section of CoalSwarm as a source of information on the coal industry and their plans in Aotearoa.

Existing mines

Bathurst currently operates the Takitimu mine in Southland and the Cascade Mine at the foot of the Denniston Escarpment.

The beauty of the Denniston Plateau.  Photo: Forest & Bird

The beauty of the Denniston Plateau. Photo: Forest & Bird

Planned Denniston mine

Bathurst Resources has applied for resource consent to mine 6.1 million tonnes of coal (leading to around 8 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions) on the Denniston Plateau, an area of great beauty, high scientific interest and unique biodiversity.

The West Coast Environment Network and  Forest and Bird have mounted a series of legal challenges to Bathurst’s plans. At the time of writing, here’s how things stand:

The Environment Court has issued an interim decision granting consent for Bathurst (calling itself Buller Coal) to mine at Denniston, subject to stronger conditions. Opponents are refusing to negotiate on conditions as there are no conditions that would make it OK to destroy this exceptional area of beauty and biodiversity, or to continue adding to climate change.

Forest and Bird and WCENT  launched two separate appeals against the Environment Court’s decision. One was lost, but the other case is looking much more promising.

In addition, the Supreme Court is currently considering a separate case on whether climate change can be taken into account when considering an application for resource consent for a mine. If the Supreme Court decision is favourable the Environment Court will have to reconvene and hear climate change evidence on the Denniston mine.

And even if none of these decisions comes out in our favour, there are still other legal options available. Bathurst are a long way from getting their claws into Denniston!

We hope that the legal process will stop Bathurst’s Denniston plans in their tracks. But even if it doesn’t, the legal process has value: it buys time to build public opposition to and awareness of Bathurst’s plans, and it makes Bathurst’s shareholders even more unhappy than they already are.

Who Are Bathurst’s Shareholders?

That answer is constantly changing! Bathurst shares turn over rapidly, and so, the list of the leading shareholders changes from week to week. Here are the top 10 as of 6 June 2013:

Merrill Lynch Factor Index Fund
JPMorgan (Taiwan) Global Natrl Res Ldrs
ILI JPM Natural Resources GBP
CC Asia Alpha Fund
FPIL JP Morgan Global Natural Resources
Vanguard Total Intl Stock Idx Fund
ZI JF 5 elements
TCW International Small Cap
LG Asian Natrl Resources Fd
DFA International Small Company Port

If you have investment in any of these funds, call them and tell them it’s time to get out of Bathurst Resources!

We are continuing to analyse Bathurst’s sources of investment.

Time to Divest from Bathurst

As both Bill McKibben’s New Zealand tour and the recent Australian climate conferences make clear, campaigns to get investors to divest from fossil fuels, and in particular coal, are proving highly effective.

For small investors who are looking for short-term gains, Bathurst is proving a really, really bad investment – and with the proposed Denniston mine still tied up in multiple court cases, and the likelihood of direct action against the planned mine on top of that, Bathurst’s financial position isn’t going to improve any time soon.

For institutional investors who are looking for a long-term investment, the outlook is even worse. The growing ca
rbon bubble
means that fossil fuels are the very opposite of a worthwhile long-term investment. Why put your money into a resource that  will lose its value?

It’s time for investors to get out of Bathurst Resources. It’s time for Bathurst Resources to get out of Denniston. And it’s time for fossil fuels to be seen as what they are: a sunset industry on which the sun has already gone down.