Covid death not enough to prevent ASX suspension for Queensland miner TerraCom


A Queensland coalminer is furious after copping an ASX suspension, even though it was suffering from a series of Covid mishaps.

The owner of the Blair Athol coalmine in Central Queensland says a series of Covid-driven setbacks – including the death of a manager – delayed the delivery of its annual financial report and set up a clash with an “unreasonable” ASX, who suspended the company from trading.

Emerging coalminer TerraCom was frozen from trading on the Australian stock market on September 30 after it failed to lodge its audited financial results within three months of the end of the financial year, a requirement of listed companies.

The $120m firm – which operates in South Africa and also owns the Blair Athol coalmine in Clermont – said “significant” Covid delays had prevented it from finalising its 2021 figures by the end of September, though it had believed a one-month extension would be granted in lieu of the events that transpired since its preliminary report on August 31.

The company noted that executive chairman Craig Ransley and chief financial officer Celeste van Tonder had contracted Covid in South Africa in September, while a finance and commercial manager at one of the company’s major South African operations had died from the disease.

Quarantining and isolation requirements affected a number of staff during this time, TerraCom said, including chief executive officer Daniel McCarthy as he flew between Australia and Africa.

Despite pleading exceptional circumstances, the company failed to qualify for the one-month extension under amended ASIC relief measures, with the ASX advising that TerraCom needed to indicate at the lodging of its preliminary report it would be needing more time.

“The company is extremely disappointed with the decision by the ASX,” TerraCom wrote.

“It believes the position taken is unreasonable and in effect inappropriately restricts the application of the amended ASIC relief in circumstances it was clearly intended to cover to the prejudice of the company and its shareholders.”

Terracom on Thursday finally managed to get its results out, revealing its comprehensive loss for the year had shrunk by 60 per cent to a $65m deficit.

Shares remained suspended at 16.5 cents each.

“The company wishes to acknowledge all stakeholders at this time and thank them for their continued support,” TerraCom said.

TerraCom makes most of its money in South Africa but acquired the Blair Athol coalmine in Queensland in 2017. It assumed an owner-operator role for the mine in July last year and also has projects in the Galilee Basin and at Springsure.

The company exceeded its production goals at Blair Athol by 247,000 tonnes for the year while cutting costs by 13 per cent.

However, average revenue per tonne at Blair Athol was $14.70 lower over the year thanks to fluctuating foreign exchange rates and lower demand due to Covid-19.

The company’s improved overall result was helped by it being free of a $116m impairment against its disposed Mongolian operations from the year before, although it booked $42.9m in depreciation and amortisation costs and a $33.6m impairment expense on its Australian exploration assets in its 2021 figures.

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