Struggling coal miner Wollongong Coal is facing a suspension of operations due to the late payment of fees.

Wollongong Coal (ASX:WLC) told investors this morning it was facing a suspension of its Russell Vale and Wongawilli Collieries and was considering its options.

“The company received letters from the Department of Planning & Environment (Resources Regulator), proposing to issue a direction under the Mining Act 1992, suspending the operations of the Company in relation to certain mining titles … [relating] to operations at the Russell Vale Colliery and the Wongawilli Colliery.

“The proposed decision relates to the late payment of various authorisation fees (rents and levies) payable under the relevant mining titles over time. The proposed decision is preliminary only.”

The shares promptly fel 46 per cent in morning trade to 0.8c.

Wollongong Coal (WLC) shares over the past month.
Wollongong Coal (WLC) shares over the past month.

Its Wongawilli mine is operational, but Russell Vale has been under “care and maintenance” since 2015 – awaiting approval for expansion.

The news follows a tough year for the miner, who last year unveiled a plan to convert unused land into a residential development to get a bit of extra cash.

Late last year WLC defaulted on a $US25 million debt with its Mauritius-based banker, now taken over by AXIS bank among others as of January 16.

WLC reported 30,431 tonnes produced from its only operational mine in the last quarter.

Shares in the company have traded between 0.4 and 1.5c in the past year – recently buoyed by press about a return of confidence in Aussie coal miners.