Australian coal exploration and development company Firestone Energy says its Waterberg Joint Venture technical team, together with 50:50 partner Sekoko Resources (which provides Firestone with rights of participation in the Waterberg coal project), continue to progress the bankable feasibility study for the proposed coal mine to supply 10 Mtpa of thermal coal to power utility Eskom.

The company revealed that during the quarter ended March 31, Eskom requested a change in the plant process design in order to accommodate the different burn characteristics of the top and bottom coal seams. As a result, the request has been included in the current bankable feasibility study which is now expected to be finalised in June 2013.

Further, the various specialist studies required for the completion of the bankable feasibility study, namely environmental, rail, infrastructure, geo-technical and hydrology studies, commenced during the quarter, and are currently well underway, Firestone noted.

The geology and resources chapters of the feasibility study are complete. During the quarter, environmental consultants commenced with the public involvement process required in order to amend the existing Environmental Right Management Programme. Drilling to delineate the faults on Smitspan was completed during the quarter, and drilling commenced on Massenberg in order to upgrade the resource status of the property.

Firestone pointed out that it is currently awaiting the results of further drill analysis and as part of the feasibility study the overall data will be integrated to produce an interim report that is expected to be published prior to the finalisation of the bankable feasibility study.

The company advised that the Waterberg Joint Venture technical team continues to actively engage with all stakeholders including Eskom, Transnet Freight Rail, and all relevant regulatory authorities.

Firestone further advised that third party negotiations for funding of the company continue to progress, however are not in a position to disclose details. Firestone said it expected to make an announcement later in May 2013.

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