Nathan Tinkler buys Wilkie Creek mine for $150 million

Mining magnate Nathan Tinkler is making another sortie into coal, purchasing Peabody Energy’s Wilkie Creek mine in Queensland for $150 million.

The purchase comes less than a year after Mr Tinkler was forced to sell his stake in Whitehaven Coal for about half the price it was worth when he obtained it in 2011 after the company’s merger with Aston Resources.

Mr Tinkler, who formerly topped the BRW Young Rich List, became embroiled in a stoush with creditors after increasing his debts and failing to make repayments.

He was then forced to sell his stake in Whitehaven to make the repayments.

Mr Tinkler’s Hunter Sports Group still owns NRL team the Newcastle Knights, but is likely to face a battle with members for the club after defaulting in March on his commitment to have a $10.52 million bank guarantee in place.

The deal for Wilkie Creek will be funded through equity from Mr Tinkler and the support of Leucadia and Jefferies, as US-based investment and private equity firm, Mr Tinkler told The Australian .

The mine was closed last year following Peabody blaming the carbon tax, falling coal prices and increased costs of doing business as reasons for the shut down.

Peabody hired UBS in 2012 to sell Wilkie Creek for around $500 million, but was unable to find a buyer.

“I looked at it 18 months ago … at the time people in the market were saying they were looking for up to $600m and we probably weren’t that far away from that number then,” Mr Tinkler told The Australian.

Mr Tinkler said he would like to have the mine back into production by the end of the year, but has no intention of listing on the Australian stock market in the near-term.

NATHAN Tinkler has bought back into Australian resources in a $150 million deal for a Queensland mine.

The former billionaire’s Singapore-based Bentley Resources bought Peabody Energy’s Wilkie Creek thermal coal mine for $70 million in cash and the assumption of some of the company’s liabilities.

Coal giant Peabody has had its Queensland mine on the market since mid-2012.

At the time, Wilkie Creek was exporting 2.5 million tonnes of thermal coal a year through the Port of Brisbane and a $500 million price tag was touted to prospective buyers.

The mine closed in December, last year, with the company blaming the carbon tax and there are no employees or equipment left.

Mr Tinkler’s investment was made with the backing of Leucadia National Corp subsidiary Jefferies Group, a US investment bank.

According to documents lodged with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, Peabody expected to pay $34.5 million for port and rail obligations related to the closure this year and $25.9 million in other closure expenses.

Peabody said Bentley Resources would assume the rail and port obligations and ‘‘other liabilities’’ as part of the sale, subject to some closing conditions.

The Newcastle Herald reported in April that the embattled Newcastle Knights owner was trying to raise funds for a new coal venture after selling Aston Metals.

It is understood Mr Tinkler did not receive a cent from the Aston Metals sale, with all proceeds going to his banks.