Ambre names new chairman, expands U.S. coal presence

Australia-based Ambre Energy Ltd., which last year bought into U.S. coal mines in Montana and Wyoming, announced Feb. 20 the appointment of Terry O’Reilly as non-executive Chairman.

This follows his appointment as a director in January. O’Reilly succeeds David Usasz, who has chaired the company for the last three years and remains on the board as a non-executive director. O’Reilly is one of Australia’s most experienced resource and energy industry executives, with extensive board, chief executive and senior executive experience in Australia and internationally, Ambre noted.

“We are confident that Terry will make a valuable contribution to the success of Ambre Energy in building a vertically-integrated business which sells US thermal coal to customers in Asia and Europe,” Usasz said. “He brings unique insights into mining operations and world coal markets which will help us to continue our successful strategy of optimizing coal assets in the US and developing the infrastructure to supply export markets with high-quality thermal coal.”

O’Reilly was on the board of Macarthur Coal from October 2008 to October 2011 and is currently the Chairman of Superior Coal, an unlisted public company specializing in the processing of waste coals, and a non-executive director with Thomas & Coffey Ltd.

Ambre announced on Feb. 15 the appointment of CBA Equities Ltd., RBC Capital Markets and RBS Morgans Corporate Ltd. as joint lead managers to assist the company in its planned listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in the second quarter of 2012.

Ambre CEO Edek Choros said the company is committed to building a vertically integrated U.S. coal export business to service Asian customers. “Our prime strategy is to optimize coal assets in the U.S. and develop the logistical infrastructure required to service strong and growing export markets with a high quality thermal coal product,’’ Choros said.

Ambre in November 2011 acquired 50% interests in the Decker mine in Montana and the Black Butte mine in Wyoming, plus a 100% interest in the remaining reserves of the Big Horn Coal Co. and the Rosebud Coal Sales Co. Ambre has assumed full operating responsibilities for both the acquired mines where current production is approximately 6 million tonnes in total per year. The 50% partner in Decker is Cloud Peak Energy (NYSE:CLD), while the partner at Black Butte is Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE:APC).

These acquisitions follow the earlier purchase by Ambre Energy of the Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview port facility (MBTL) on the Columbia River near Longview, Wash. Arch Coal Inc. (NYSE:ACI), the second largest U.S. coal producer, is taking a 38% stake in MBTL, Ambre noted.

Ambre also plans to develop the Morrow Pacific project, a coal barging and transshipping project on the Columbia River, to provide an export route for Powder River Basin coal to U.S. trade allies in the Asia-Pacific market. In January, Port of St. Helens Commissioners unanimously approved a Terminal Service Agreement for the Morrow Pacific project, enabling the company to proceed with plans for a transloading facility at the Port of St. Helens’ Port Westward Industrial Park on the Columbia River, Ambre said.

These are two of several projects ongoing on the U.S. West Coast to build new rail-to-ship loading facilities for the booming coal export market. Most U.S. export coal is currently railed to under-used Canadian terminals in order to access the seaborne market, but booming Canadian coal exports are steadily eating up much of that excess capacity, as well.

Ambre said it will continue to target assets which complement the coal-related infrastructure it owns to expand its markets and facilitate trading activities.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.