Freight Rail

Aurizon prevails in Wiggins Island appeal case

Aurizon coal wagons. Photo: Aurizon

The Queensland Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by a group of miners over charges imposed by Aurizon for upgrades of the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal at the Port of Gladstone.

The decision is the latest in a court battle that has been running since March 2016, when Aurizon challenged the validity of notices by the miners who sought to reduce how much they would have to pay for the upgrades.

In a statement to the ASX, Aurizon welcomed the court’s decision.

“Today’s decision by the Queensland Court of Appeal means that the customers’ notices are invalid and Wiggins Island Rail Project (WIRP) Fees are payable to Aurizon.”

The company said that no revenue has been accrued for the above regulatory fees since the project was completed in 2015 and the decision does not impact Aurizon’s regulated return for the project.

In a separate Expert Determination process, it was stated that the WIRP fee should be reduced, and Aurizon indicated it is looking at options for appealing that outcome.

Aurizon, which manages the central Queensland coal network in addition to its above rail operations, invested roughly $800 million in the WIRP. However, since completing the WIRP in 2015, coal prices have dropped significantly, leading to the miners seeking to reduce their costs.

With some of the original owners of the Wiggins Island export terminal going into administration, the cost for the remainder to access the port had increased.

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