A coal exploration and mining company has taken the next step in its plans to start a new coalmine on the West Coast.
A Western Australian firm, Bathurst Resources, has applied for resource consents in the name of L&M Coal, which it is in the process of buying.
The proposed mine site covers nearly 150 hectares on the Denniston Plateau, near Westport, and falls within the Mt Rochfort Conservation Area.
The consent application says the site contains just over six million tonnes of coal, which will be extracted at the rate of about 1.5 million tonnes a year.
But Bathurst Resources says further drilling has revealed more coal in the site, meaning it can mine up to two million tonnes a year for at least 20 years.
The manager of the Minerals West Coast trust, Peter O'Sullivan, says the site is a source of high-quality coal.