BILLIONAIRE Newcastle businessman Nathan Tinkler is looking to combine his coal mining interests with established industry player Whitehaven Coal.

The Newcastle Knights and Jets owner is a major shareholder in Aston Resources and Boardwalk Resources and wants them to merge with Whitehaven.

The joint-venture would be a ‘‘good fit’’ according to industry experts because both have projects located in the Gunnedah Basin that would cut operating costs.

The same rail support network and coal washing plants could be used for a number of operations in the area if the merger procedes.

Stockbrokers said there was still a chance another player could join negotiations and make on offer for Whitehaven or Aston separately.

Whitehaven shareholders would receive a full franked dividend of 50 cents a share if the merger with Mr Tinkler’s three coal companies goes ahead as planned.

Aston shareholders would receive 1.89 Whitehaven shares for each share and Mr Tinkler would retain about 32 per cent of the combined company, estimated to be worth about $5.2 billion.