GTL Energy and Solid Energy are continuing with operations at the Mataura coal briquette plant and plan to run it for an extended period to enable GTL Energy to demonstrate the production capabilities of the plant and its technology and for product combustion and handling testing in the domestic and international market. The plant, which uses GTL Energy’s coal upgrading technology, achieved sustained production runs through to April 2013. Following a period of product and production assessment, the plant was commissioned in May 2013. Since that time, the companies have been considering the commercial arrangements for its ongoing operations.
A range of options have been agreed between the companies about the longer-term future of the plant. Solid Energy Interim CEO Garry Diack says this next phase of work at Mataura aims to demonstrate the plant’s capabilities on a continuous production basis, and to establish the longer-term value of the plant, beyond its final proof of concept phase.
“Although we will continue to mine and market New Vale lignite it is now certain that Solid Energy will not be continuing with lignite upgrading in the foreseeable future,” he says. “While we continue to believe the lignite briquettes produced with GTL Energy’s technology have good potential, given our current status, Solid Energy does not see itself as the long-term owner of the plant.”
“We eventually want it in the hands of someone who can advance the technology to commercial reality and make it a success,” Mr Diack says.
GTL Energy’s CEO, Fred Schulte says “We are pleased that we have arrived at a solution with Solid Energy which ensures that the plant can continue to operate. This will underpin the deployment of the GTLE Technology globally, in particular the large scale project under development in Indonesia. It will also establish the depth of the market for briquettes in New Zealand. Ultimately the long term future of the Mataura plant will be dictated by the local market, however the immediate near term sees a continued production phase, and product sales.”