New Vale mine

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New Vale mine is an opencast lignite mine located at Waimumu near Gore in Eastern Southland.

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Project Details

Location: Waimumu, 11 km southeast of Gore in Eastern Southland (South Island)
Coordinates: -46.154984,168.751187

Coal field: Waimumu
Background: The mine has been in operation since the 1940s. The Highsted family was associated with its operation until the mine was purchased by government-owned Solid Energy in 2006.[1] Solid Energy has constructed the $29 million Mataura Lignite Briquetting Plant, whose scheduled commissioning was mid-2012, but which still hadn’t gone into production by December 2012. The plant is located near the closed Matuara opencast Mine site near the town of Matuara in Southland. Solid Energy aims to produce 90,000 tonnes of briquettes from approximately 150,000 tonnes of lignite sourced from the New Vale mine.[2] The company is also studying the prospect for building a 1.2 million tonne a year coal-to-fertiliser plant and the possibility of converting coal to transport fuels.[3] In September 2012 Solid Energy announced that it would be opening up a new block within the existing Waimumu licence in order to supply existing customers and meet feedstock needs at the Mataura Briquette Plant.[4]
Current owner: Solid Energy, a New Zealand government owned company[5][6]
Status: Operating
Production capacity: 310,000 tonnes/year[7]
Estimated recoverable reserves:
Mining technique: Opencast
Type of coal: Lignite. Higher moisture content than harder coals.
Solid fuel calorific value (gross) 15.25 MJ/kg (Range for NZ coal 15.25–31.95 MJ/kg)[8]
Market information: New Vale lignite is used by a range of southern industries. Fonterra’s dairy processing plant at Edendale is the largest customer. Other customers include the Alliance meat processing group, timber companies and a hospital. Briquettes from the Mataura briquette plant are intended for the domestic market.
Environmental and/or health & safety issues: Solid Energy’s plans to expand lignite production in Southland for briquette production; and in order to develop a lignite-to-urea (CTF) plant, and possibly also a lignite-to diesel plant have met with strong opposition from environmental groups who are concerned about the increased emissions of carbon dioxide that would result, and also about the loss of fertile farmland. By December 2012 Solid Energy had still not made any announcement about the proposed site of the lignite-to-urea plant or about the potential partners in the project although the company’s 2012 Annual Report referred to this decision being made by about early 2013.[9] There no longer appears to be plans for a lignite-to-diesel plant in the foreseeable future.

Articles and Resources


  1. Solid Energy, "New Vale Mine", accessed December 2012
  2. Solid Energy, "Matuaura Lignite Briquetting Plant: Application for resource consents and assessment of environmental effects" 22 February 2011, accessed March 2012
  3. Solid Energy, "Annual Report 2011", accessed December 2012
  4. Solid Energy, "New lignite block opened at New Vale mine", accessed December 2012
  5. Ministry of Economic Development "Operating coal mines", accessed March 2012
  6. Coal NZ, "New Vale fact sheet", accessed March 2012
  7. Solid Energy, "New Vale Mine", accessed December 2012
  8. Ministry of Economic Development, "Energy data file 2011", accessed December 2012
  9. Solid Energy, "Annual Report 2012", accessed December 2012

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