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AUO ann. re Signs $76M Synd. Loan Agreement for Tahmoor Nth

Document date:  Thu 09 Jan 2003
Published:  Thu 09 Jan 2003 15:18:26
Document No:  284944
Document part:  A
Market Flag:  N
Classification:  Progress Report

AUSTRAL COAL LIMITED                          2003-01-09  ASX-SIGNAL-G

HOMEX - Sydney                                                        

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* SYNDICATE OF THREE MAJOR BANKS
* INCORPORATING A GERMAN GOVERNMENT EXPORT CREDIT GUARANTEE

Directors of Austral Coal today announced the signing of a Facilities
Agreement for a $76 million project loan facility. The funds, to be
borrowed by wholly owned subsidiary Tahmoor Coal Pty Ltd, will be
used to repay the existing debt facility, purchase a new longwall
system and upgrade other plant and infrastructure at the Tahmoor
mine.

There are two tranches to the loan facility one of which is supported
by a guarantee from the German Government export credit agency,
Hermes Kreditversicherungs AG.

The Hermes guarantee of approximately $40 million supports the
funding of the imported components of the new longwall system to be
supplied by the German manufacturer DBT GmbH.

Establishment of the Hermes guarantee is a first for a major capital
investment in the Australian coal industry and will provide funding
on better terms and conditions than standard project loans.

The Facilities Agreement also includes a $3 million bank guarantee
facility and a US$105 million foreign exchange facility.

ANZ Investment Bank Limited arranged the Hermes guarantee and is the
Export Credit Agent. NM Rothschild & Sons (Australia) Limited
advised, arranged and is the Agent for all other facilities.

The participating banks are N M Rothschild & Sons (Australia)
Limited, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited and HSBC
Precious Metals (Australia) Limited.

Managing Director Ugo Cario said that the funding is a final step in
realising the companys three year ambition to become the pre-eminent
coking coal producer in the Southern Coalfields.

"The purchase of a state-of-the-art high capacity longwall system and
wash plant upgrade together with the considerable infrastructure
investment already made over the last two years, will equip Tahmoor
as one of the most modern underground mines in Australia with
production potential of up to 4 mtpa by 2004," he said.

For additional information please contact Ugo Cario, MANAGING
DIRECTOR or Stephen Peterson, COMPANY SECRETARY, on (02) 8256 4700 or
by email at info@austcoal.com.au