FILE PHOTO: Four buyers have their eye on Rolleston mine. NOT ACTUAL MINE IN IMAGE.
FILE PHOTO: Four buyers have their eye on Rolleston mine. NOT ACTUAL MINE IN IMAGE. Mara Pattison-Sowden

Four private buyers have their eye on Rolleston mine

A BUYER could soon be found for Glencore's Rolleston mine in a deal that could offer a lifeline to the troubled Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal (WICET) near Gladstone.

Up to four private equity buyers are understood to be keen on acquiring the mine following the Kestral deal earlier this year and Wesfarmers' decision to sell Curragh at the end of 2017, The Australian reports.

The open-cut thermal mine, located in the Bowen Basin, was put up for sale in August 2017.

The mine has coal reserves amounting to 600 million tonnes of thermal coal, used for making electricity.

It is believed that EMR, which paid $US2.25b for Kestral in partnership with Adaro, is keen on Rolleston along with Apollo and possibly AMCI and Riverstone.

The high prices achieved by Rio Tinto in selling the Kestral and Hails Creek coal mines - which topped $US4.15b - has renewed Swiss-based Glencore's determination to finalise a deal on Rolleston.

Glencore owns 75 per cent of the Rolleston mine, with two Japanese partners Itochu Corp and Sumitomo Corp each holding 12.5 percent.

Both minority partners said they also intend to sell their interest.

The buyers who missed out on Kestral and Curragh are thought to have turned their sights to the latest coal asset to have come on the market.

Ownership of Rolleston is a key component in the future of WICET, which is at the centre of debt negotiations with senior lenders owned $3.8b.

Key shippers - along with others that have since collapsed - struck a deal at the height of the resources boom to develop and own WICET, paying down the hefty loans taken out to fund the operation themselves as they shipped coal through the terminal.

The Rolleston coal mine, which is 139km southeast of Emerald and nearly 700km inland from Brisbane, produced 13.3 million tonnes of coal in 2016, more than 10 per cent of Glencore's Australian managed coal production of about 93 million tonnes.

Rolleston has also received government approval to extend its mine life to beyond 2040.

Merrill Lynch has been appointed as sole financial adviser on any deal.



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