L&M Group

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Background

The L&M Group is made up of a number of companies with interests in the minerals and energy sectors. The “L&M” dates back to the original company founded in 1935, “Lime & Marble Ltd”. Since then the company has been through various iterations involving mineral, coal, gold and petroleum exploration and mining.[1] L&M Group Limited became incorporated as a NZ Limited Company (no 467639) on 26 Sep 2013. Archibald Geoffrey Loudon is the sole owner and director.[2]

Role of the Chairman

Archibald Geoffrey (Geoff) Loudon is an experienced mining professional who has had interests in dozens of New Zealand and overseas companies. He is the New Zealand Chairman and Director of Hong Kong based Auriferous Mining, and is or was a major shareholder in the company. He has a key role in the L&M Group, and is or has been the owner, and usually the sole director, of almost 20 NZ companies with interests in coal mining. Mr Loudon had a pivotal role in gold mining in Papua New Guinea and in 2006 was described as having, “broad ambitions for his New Zealand investments which take in a billion-dollar plan to be a large-scale producer of synthetic fuels from lignite, coal-seam methane and coal, plus a petroleum exploration float and a possible revival of alluvial gold mining on the South Island.”[6] From 2006 to 2016 he served as the Chairman of Canadian company Nautilus Minerals Inc. Nautilus was the first company to explore the ocean floor for massive sulphide deposits of copper, gold and silver. In October 2016 he registered yet another NZ company, L&M Waikato Limited, whose intended role in the L&M Group is unknown.[3][4]

Activities of the Group

The makeup of the L&M Group changes frequently and there are significant overlaps of shareholders and directors. In the past, the L&M Group has focused on gold-mining but on its website (apparently last updated in 2010) it states that it has, “downsized our gold operations and, recognising the increasing demand and value in the energy markets, changed our focus to energy resources.” [Although it was announced in November 2012 that Geoff Loudon would take a 50% stake of the rights in a gold and silver prospect near the Martha Hill mine in the Coromandel][5] “We have identified and obtained mineral exploration permits, and have begun exploration of a number of coal, coal seam gas (CSG) and lignite leads.”[6] The company’s aim is to “become one of New Zealand’s primary energy resource producers and exporters"[7] but in 2012 there was little evidence that any commercial extraction of resources was actually being carried out by L&M companies. In June 2012, for example, the Director’s report stated that although work had continued on the Ohai Coal Seam Gas (CSG) pilot project, the results had been “disappointing” and commercial rates of gas flow had not been achieved.[8] L&M Energy’s 6 month financial report (30 June 2012) reported an overall loss of $2.1 million.

Historically L&M has obtained permits, explored, prospected and drilled, prepared prospects for commercialisation and then sold them – as it did with the Denniston Escarpment site that was sold to Bathurst Resources. Consequently, there must be a strong incentive to present an optimistic view of the company’s activities and L&M Energy’s website continues to do this when describing the prospects for commercialization of CSG, electricity generation and liquefied natural gas projects.[9] A 2009 article on the Ministry of Economic Development’s website stated that L&M Coal Seam Gas’s total potential in-ground gas resources in its New Zealand permits (given as 1.2 trillion cubic feet of gas) were the largest resource figure published by any CSG explorer.[10]

In 2010 there was a merger between L&M Petroleum (which held three joint-venture permits in the Taranaki Basin plus South Island exploration permits including one in the Te Anau basin[11] and L&M Coal Seam Gas, forming a new company, L&M Energy. Geoffrey Loudon and Gregory Ross Hogan are the only significant New Zealand based shareholders in the company; approximately 73% of the shares are held by overseas investors. The formation of L&M Energy was intended to “underpin an aggressive more than year-long drilling programme targeting coal seam gas in Otago and Southland.”[12] (Other sources refer to L&M Energy’s acquisition of L&M Coal Seam Gas, rather than to a merger.)[13]

Also in 2010, Bathurst Resources Limited, L&M’s joint venture partner, acquired L&M Coal Limited from L&M Coal Holdings. L&M Coal Limited, which held a 18,740 ha exploration permit in the Buller coal field, was renamed Buller Coal Holdings Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bathurst. In February 2011, Buller Coal Holdings Limited was renamed Buller Coal Limited.[16] In Dec 2016 L&M Coal Holdings announced that it would file legal proceedings to recover US$40 million (NZ53.7m) of the performance payment as Bathurst had reached the trigger of 25,000 tonnes of coal product. Bathurst stated that it would fight any legal action, claiming that because it had made the relevant royalty payments, its failure to make the due performance payment was not a breach of the agreement with L&M. L&M Coal Holdings is no longer listed on the NZ Companies Register and its current ownership is uncertain. The Otago Daily Times reported that it was understood, but not confirmed, that L&M Coal Holdings had been sold about a year previously to a Hong Kong-based company.[14][15]

L&M companies have significant investments in lignite and hold rights over about a third of Southland and Otago lignite deposits. (State-owned Solid Energy has rights over another third of the deposits.) L&M Group has exploration permits covering more than 20,000 ha over the Hawkdun, Benhar, Mataura, Edendale, and Ashers deposits.[16]

Yet another L&M Group venture is the formation in 2012 of Chatham Phosphate Ltd of which it owns 90%. The permit is for seafloor phosphate exploration near the Chatham Islands east of Christchurch.[17]

Changes to L&M Companies 2014–2016

[18]

24 Feb 2014
L&M Mining Limited went into liquidation and was struck off the register.

27 March 2014
Notice was given that the following L&M companies had gone into liquidation and would be removed from the New Zealand Companies Register:[19] Kiwi Phosphate Limited
- Lime & Marble Limited
L&M Coal Mangapehi Limited
- 
L&M Coal Maramarua Limited
- 
L&M Lignite Edendale Limited
- 
L&M Lignite Hawkdun Limited
- 
L&M Lignite Mataura Limited
- 
L&M Offshore Northland Limited
- 
L&M Offshore Otago Limited

09 March 2015
Ownership of New Brighton Collieries (Company number 2239106 Inc 08 May 2009) was transferred to Bathurst Resources Limited and the director became Richard Tacon. New Brighton Collieries holds Exploration Permit no 40625 over an area of 658.370ha in Ohai, Southland. The permit runs from 03 Sep 2004 – 02 Sep 2017.[19]

10 June 2016
The following L&M Companies went into liquidation: L & M Earnscleugh Limited
L&M Coal Mount Somers Limited (197680 Formerly L&M Exploration Limited)
Pukemiro Coal Limited (4162738)
Mintago Investments Limited

17 Oct 2016
L&M Waikato Limited (6132628) was incorporated.

L&M Companies Jan 2017

[20][21]

L&M Group no longer has a website and it is difficult to obtain information about the structure, management and financial position of the group. The permits held by the removed coal and lignite mining companies had either been previously surrendered or were about to expire.

L&M Group Limited
Company number: 4672639
Incorporation date: 26 Sep 2013
Director: Archibald Geoffrey LOUDON
Shareholding: Archibald Geoffrey LOUDON
Minerals permits: None

L&M Energy Limited (Formerly L&M Energy Ltd and Kenham Holdings Ltd)
Company number: 847177
Incorporation date: 04 March 1997
Director: Archibald Geoffrey LOUDON
Bruce Nicholson MCGREGOR
Shareholding: New Dawn Energy Limited
Minerals permits: None

Lignite Ashers Waituna Limited (Formerly L&M Southland Lignite Limited)
Company no 1534444 Inc 06 Aug 2004
Director: Archibald Geoffrey LOUDON
Shareholding: Archibald Geoffrey LOUDON
Minerals permits: None

L&M Coal Kaitangata Limited (Formerly L&M Lignite Kaitangata Limited)
Company no 1848031 Inc 15 Aug 2006
Director: Archibald Geoffrey LOUDON
Shareholding: Archibald Geoffrey LOUDON
Minerals permits: Exploration permit 40626 11 Jan 2005 – 10 Jan 2018
Southland 1583 ha

L&M Coal Whitecliffs Limited
Company number 3197886 Inc 17 Nov 2010
Director: Archibald Geoffrey LOUDON
Shareholding: Archibald Geoffrey LOUDON
Minerals permits: - Exploration permit no 53158 09 Jul 2012 – 08 Jul 2017
- Canterbury 3029.360 ha Status: Active

L&M Coal Seam Gas Limited
Company no 1555755 Inc 01 Oct 2014
Directors: Archibald Geoffrey Loudon
Bruce Nicholson McGregor
Shareholding: L&M Energy Limited
Ultimate holding company: New Dawn Energy Limited
Minerals permits: Has held 16 permits in the past, all of which are either expired or have been surrendered. Does not appear to hold any current permits.

New Dawn Energy Limited
Company no 4037599 Inc 28 Sep 2012
Directors: Archibald Geoffrey LOUDON
Bruce Nicholson MCGREGOR
Shareholding: Archibald Geoffrey Loudon
Minerals permits: None

L&M Waikato Limited
Company no 6132628 Inc 17 Oct 2016
Director: Archibald Geoffrey LOUDON
Shareholding: Archibald Geoffrey LOUDON
Minerals permits: None

Financial status

In June 2012 the Director’s report for L&M Energy stated that there had been a loss of $2.1 million during the preceding six months. Chairman and major shareholder, Geoff Loudon, provided a loan of A$5 million to ensure that the company could meet its current commitments. L&M stated that it would be giving up two of its prospecting licences, one in South Canterbury (PEP52605) and Kaitangata (PEP38219).[22] The Group appeared to face an uncertain future as the report it is stated that, “the nature of the Group’s business is such that there is material uncertainty around the ability of the Group to obtain further funding which may cast significant doubts on the Group’s ability to continue as a growing concern.”[23]

A new player then entered the game when New Dawn Energy (NDE) launched a takeover bid for L&M Energy. NDE, however, is wholly owned by Geoff Loudon, who also owns a 28 per cent stake in L&M Energy.[24] He planned to delist L&M from the ASX and NZX if the takeover bid was successful.[25] By the end of 2012, NDE had acquired more than 82% of the shares in L&M Energy whose chief executive, Kent Anson (appointed 2010), had decided to return to Australia “for personal and family reasons”.[26]

Coal related projects – past and present

MT – million tonnes

Ashers Waituna Coalfield Exploration Permit

This permit (EP 40–359) is described as current on L&M Lignite’s website but appears to have expired on 24 January 2008. It was transferred from Kenham Holdings Ltd to L&M Lignite Ltd in March 2005 and covered 4,900 ha (49.0 sq km) in eastern Southland, 20 km east of Invercargill with a resource of 880 MT of lignite B. L&M drilled over 90 exploration holes, carried out coal quality assessments and commenced feasibility studies into liquid fuel and petrochemical production.[27] An L&M report indicated that the coal quality was highly suitable for gasification and proposed a mine to feed a plant producing low-sulfur naptha and diesel using the Fisher-Tropsch process. A Southland Times article stated that the permit had expired in the previous January but that L&M Lignite Ashers-Waituna (formerly named L&M Southland Lignite Limited, formerly named L&M Lignite Limited, formerly named L&M Petroleum (Waiau) Limited),[28] had applied for an extension. L&M exploration director, David Manhire, was reported as saying that plans for a lignite mine and diesel conversion plant hadn’t been abandoned but that it was a large project, still in the evaluation phase.[29]

A 1998 Department of Conservation publication stated, “There is the possibility that large scale open cast mining in the Waituna-Ashers area could occur. A large lignite deposit has been identified. Lignite mining activity would be likely to have a significant impact on the lands administered by the Department in the area, particularly the Waituna Wetlands Scientific Reserve and Seaward Moss Conservation Land.”[30] An L&M Lignite report, Ashers-Waituna and Hawkdun lignite deposits: their resources and use potential, acknowledged that, “The environmental cost is similar to that of higher ranked coals in all respects other than the CO2 emissions which, due to the low conversion efficiency as a "result of having to dry the coal, is high.”[31] There are other significant environmental concerns about proposals to mine in this area, as stated in a 2005 presentation by director, David Manhire, in which he makes reference to concerns about the impact on Waituna lagoon (which is part of a RAMSAR protected site) and on ground water. He also stated that it was planned for Stage 1 of the plant to become operational by mid-2010, and that after a 22 year mine life there would be a 200 ha “final void”.[32] In an address to a 2008 mining conference, L&M Group chairman told the meeting that if the southern deposits were mined over which L&M has permits, then the rehabilitation would be recreational lakes.[33]

Buller Coal Field

In 2008 L&M Coal Ltd, a subsidiary of the L&M Group, announced that it was preparing a mining application for its 18,740 ha block in the Buller coal field near Stockton on the West Coast of the South Island. The Buller exploration permit, granted in 2005, contained an escarpment block estimated to contain 5 MT of high quality coking and thermal coal. L&M stated that the company had established a potential coal resource of 45 million tones in the Buller coal field.[34] In September 2010 L&M Coal applied to the Buller District Council and West Coast Regional Council for 24 resource consents relating to the Escarpment Mine Project (EMP), Denniston Plateau and Fairdown. The company also required an access agreement from the Department of Conservation. Once L&M Coal had been acquired by Bathurst Resources, its joint venture partner, the company was renamed Buller Coal Ltd.[35]

Canterbury Coal Prospect

A prospecting permit for thermal/semi-soft coking coal and lignite for an area of 2972 sq km, west and southwest of Christchurch, was granted to L&M Coal Mount Somers Ltd in January 2012 with a duration of two years.[36] The company proposes to carry out data compilation, field mapping and sampling followed by extensive drilling and feasibility studies.[37]

Approximate area only

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Edendale Coalfield Exploration Permit

Permit EP 40-634 (expired 12 January 2010) covered three coalfields between Gore and Invercargill in Southland. The permit area was 2,303 ha (23.0 sq km) with a resource size of 2,940 MT of lignite B. Ninety exploration holes have been drilled since 1976 and L&M carried out coal quality assessments and updated the resource estimate.[38]

Hawkdun lignite field

In 2005 the Coal Association of New Zealand announced in its newsletter that L&M Lignite Ltd had been awarded its second permit over the large Hawkdun lignite field in Central Otago near St Bathans, 60 km from Alexandra. The new 8700 hectare permit almost surrounded another of the company's blocks, the 1180 hectare one that was granted a 10-year permit in 1998 and acquired by L&M from Kenham Holdings Ltd in March 2005. (Until May 2005, Kenham Holdings was the name of the company which became L&M Petroleum Ltd, which in Jan 2010 became L&M Energy Ltd.) The Hawkdun fields contain about a billion tonnes of lignite that the company considered had a good potential for converting into liquid fuels. A conceptual plan showed a multibillion refinery covering 70 ha. (L&M Lignite Ltd had recently commenced a project to evaluate the potential of Southland and Otago’s large lignite resources as a high-quality chemical feedstock.) Lignite use was being considered as a source of hydrogen fuel, low sulphur diesel, fertiliser, methanol and electricity generation.[39]In 2009, Kent Anson, newly appointed chief executive of L&E Coal Seam Gas stated that a pilot programme would be drilled on the site.[40]

In May 2010 L&M Group financial controller, Ms Shirley Herridge, announced that the proposed Hawkdun lignite mine was at the environmental study stage. If approved, it would employ 2700 contractors during three years of construction and 675 permanent staff. Potential obstacles to development included transport routes and the cost of "sensitive design" in an area of outstanding natural landscape, she said.[41] (The Hawkdun range is depicted in some of Graham Sydney’s most iconic paintings such as “Timeless Land”.) Mining of the Hawkdun deposits was a controversial issue, especially in the light of claims made the previous February that L&M had bought pressure to bear on Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee in order to have a 200 ha Crown-owned block in the upper Manuherikia excluded from the Oteake Conservation Park set up in 2009. Brownlee denied any pressure from L&M Mining when stating, “We made the decision to keep 200 ha out on the basis that it may have significant mineral deposits, mainly lignite."[42]

Kaitangata Coal Prospect

L&M Lignite Kaitangata Ltd has a prospecting permit (EP 40¬626) for a 25.8 sq km (2,575 ha) location 65 km south of Dunedin on the east coast of the South Island. The company refers to the target as being Lignite A to Sub-Bituminous B grade coal and states that the exploration licence expires on January 10, 2014. The company states that the project contains 50 MT of coal of which 10 MT is opencastable. Preliminary drilling and evaluation have been carried out.[43]

Approximate center of irregular shaped permit area only

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Kaitangata Coal Seam Gas Permit

L&M Energy holds a 1,114 sq km permit (PEP38219 – Kaitangata) in an area well known for gas occurrences. (Kaitangata underground mine was the site of a major explosion in 1870.) More than 500 exploration wells had been drilled in the area before L&M acquired the permit and drilled a further six exploration wells and carried out water/gas production tests. In 2008 2D seismic studies were carried out in order to determine the structure in the selected pilot area and in April 2009 L&M Coal Seam Gas Ltd announced that it had commenced test production from the pilot wells.[44] Exploratory drilling was continuing in 2012.[45]

King Country Coal Seam Gas permit

In 2009 Permit PEP 51244 was awarded to L&M Coal Seam Gas (now a subsidiary of L&M Energy) for an area of 1055 sq km in the King Country north and south of Taumarunui. The company applied to an extension for the area in this project, which it is referring to as Ohura River.[46]

Maramarua Coal Prospect

The exploration permit, EP 40-627, is located 55km south of Auckland and approximately 35 km north of Huntly Power Station. The permit owner is L&M Coal Maramarua Ltd. The L&M Group website states that the permit has an expiry date of November 16, 2014 and it is estimated that the area contains 15 million tonnes of sub-bituminous coal of which 2.1 million tonnes is under less than 100 metres of overburden. Preliminary drilling and data evaluation have been carried out.[47]

Approximate centre point only of an irregular shaped permit area

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Mataura Coalfield Exploration Permit

Permit 40-663 covered 1,346 ha (13.5 sq km) in Southland and expired on 12 January 2010. The resource potential is described as 2,500 MT of lignite B. L&M Lignite’s brochure “Energy For Our Future” stated that over 130 exploration holes had been drilled since 1976 and that the company had carried out coal quality assessments and updated the resource estimate.[48]

Morton Mains

L&M Lignite’s website states that it has an exploration permit in Morton Mains in Southland.[49] A Ministry of Economic Development factsheet, “New Zealand Coal Resources”, states that Morton Mains has a recoverable resource of 507 MT of lignite.[50]

Ohai Coal Prospect

New Brighton Collieries, a subsidiary of the L&M Group, is the owner of this permit (EP 40–625 & MPA 53057), which covers 607.5 ha (6.07 sq km) in western Southland, 77 km northwest of Invercargill and expires on 2 September 2013. The resource is an estimated 39.5 million tonnes of sub-bituminous A coal. Detailed data collection and evaluation has been carried out, a mining permit application made over the total area and resource consent applications lodged.[51] Mining would affect about 150 ha of council land and would involve the destruction of several young stands of trees.[52] In June 2011 the Southland District Council and Environment Southland were awaiting more information from the company before deciding on how to progress its consent applications.[53]

Ohai Coal Seam Gas Permit

PEP38220 (Ohai) is one of two coal seam gas permits held within the Western Southland region of the South Island. Forty gas and more than 350 coal exploration wells had already been drilled before L&M was granted the permit. L&M undertook a drilling programme to obtain baseline data and initiated a single-well multiphase testing programme in 2006. A further production well was completed in June 2009. Test results showed that there is good gas content within the Ohai sub-bituminous coals. In 2011 L&M Energy reported that the first stage of a pilot project was complete and production testing was underway.[54]

L&M believes that there are high commercial opportunities for Ohai CSG to supply dairy plants and multiple other industrial sites. The company has entered into an agreement to sell electricity output from the Pilot Project to the Rio Tinto Alcan-owned New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Limited (NZAS) at Bluff in Southland. The company has also entered into an agreement with New Zealand’s largest privately owned trucking company, H.W. Richardson Group (HWRG), to explore the feasibility of developing small scale Liquefied Natural Gas (mLNG) projects, which they describe as a green alternative to diesel.[55] Despite the company’s optimism, the June 2012 Director’s report stated that although work had continued on the Ohai pilot project attempting to determine the best methods to stimulate gas flows the results had been disappointing and commercial rates of gas flow had not been achieved.[56]

South Canterbury Coal Seam Gas Permit

Permit PEP52605 (South Canterbury) was granted to L&M Energy on 20 September 2011. The 3,600 sq km onshore permit is located in the Canterbury basin. L&M describes the permit as relatively unexplored, and state that they will carry out extensive geological modeling and analysis in order to assess the permit potential and evaluate structures.

South Waikato Coal Seam Gas Permit

This permit (PEP 50348) was awarded to L&M Coal Seam Gas Ltd (now part of L&M Energy) in March 2008 and covered a 3,920 sq km area south of Hamilton including the Kawhia, Tihiroa, Te Kuiti and Mangapehi (Benneydale) coalfields. The work programme called for a series of technical and commercial studies followed by a series of exploration wells.[57] In September 2009, Kent Anson, chief executive of L&E Coal Seam Gas stated that there was a nationally significant resource of coal seam gas in New Zealand, including the promising area in the South Waikato prospect, which holds estimated resources of over 6 billion tonnes of coal at drillable depths in known fields.[58] By 2009 the company had applied for a large extension to its permit.[59]

South Waikato Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) Exploration

In March 2011 L&M Energy was granted a two year prospecting permit (52711) over an area of 2112 sq km with a thermal/semi-soft coking coal resource.[60] On its website, L&M Energy states that initial estimates suggest that this reserve could contain up to 2000 MT of in-ground coal potential, which if converted to gas would represent up to 17 Tcf (equivalent to 0.49 trillion cubic metres) of gas resources. L&M Energy’s permit surrounds the area where state-owned Solid Energy carried out an experimental UCG pilot project, which was terminated in 2012. L&M stated that they were in the very early stages of a desktop review and that the next steps would be to monitor the success of this nearby pilot project.[61]

Waiau Basin Shale Gas Opportunities

On its website, L&M Energy states that it has identified five areas throughout the South Island with excellent shale gas potential, including a large portion of the Waiau and Ohai permits, which total 616 sq km (see below). They are seeking to increase their total land holding to 25,663 sq km by means of five additional permit applications.[62] The June 2011 announcement that L&M Energy had found potentially huge shale gas deposits under the Waiau Basin produced mixed reactions from Southlanders. Some were excited about the economic opportunities but others had concerns about the use of fracking to extract the gas.[63] These concerns were exacerbated in 2012 when information was released about the 1995 fracking that had taken place in Southland (not by L&M) under a non-notified permit, meaning that very few people were aware that the Orauea stream was used as a dumping spot for more than 11 million litres of fracking fluid and waste water.[64]

Waiau Coal Seam Gas Permit

The Waiau permit (PEP38226) adjoins the Ohai permit (PEP38220). Originally L&M was involved in a joint venture with Mighty River Power (MRP) but in 2011 it acquired the remaining 10% equity held by MRP. A number of coal seam gas wells have been drilled to depths of approx 450 m in the Waiau permit and the company plans to undertake further activity in conjunction with the Ohai pilot project when and if it is successfully completed.[65]

Contact details

L&M Group
Level 2, 190 Armagh Street
PO Box 13-442
Christchurch, New Zealand
Phone: +64 (0)3 377-0045
Fax: +64 (0)3 377-0049
Mobile: +64 (0)21 935 185
Email: greghogan AT lmgroup.net.nz
Website: http://www.lmgroup.net.nz/page7f10.html

Articles and Resources

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