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BHP locks in big spending on Newcastle coal exports

<p>A BHP Billiton has confirmed it will spend about $447m on the third coal terminal for the port of Newcastle, its share of the $933m cost.</p> <p>The move follows New South Wales Government approval for the project in April last year, which should see a 33mtpa facility operating by the end of 2010.</p> <p>The terminal will later be expanded to 66mtpa.</p> <p>The project involves construction of two berths west of the existing Kooragang Island terminal, with ashiploader, a rail unloader and stockpiles.</p> <p>The project, combined with other work planned by Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS), should more than double the port’s present annual coal throughput rate of 89m tonnes.</p> <p>The vessel queue at the port dropped to 27 this week, and could fall to a 17-month low of 18 in February as capacity cutbacks continue to minimise arrivals. </p> <br />