AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Coal companies step up to develop `northern missing link’

<p>Private coal companies have given a coal transport rail corridor between the northern Bowen Basin and the Abbott Point export terminal in Queensland the green light.</p> <p>Seven companies interested in using the 69-km &#8220northern missing link&#8221 have confirmed with the Queensland Competition Authority their willingness to underwrite &#8220early works costs&#8221 undertaken by the State Government-owned QR Network Access the Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said today (Wednesday, July 18).</p> <p>The State Government would recoup the estimated $27m costs through QR Network Access via independently determined rail price arrangements &#8211 regardless of whether the project proceeded, Mr Roche said.</p> <p>&#8220Final go-ahead will depend on execution of port and rail contracts by the companies, which will in turn depend on the economic findings of this early stage engineering and design,&#8221 he said.</p> <p>&#8220Despite the project’s potential to consolidate future growth, there is no hiding the fact that industry’s interest in the northern missing link and expansion of the Abbott Point coal terminal is a direct response to the difficulties being experienced along the Goonyella corridor.&#8221</p> <p>Mr Roche said that over the past five years, coal companies had underwritten more than $3.9bn investment in the state’s rail and port capacity, and had guaranteed another $2bn for additional expansions over the next three years. </p> <p>&#8220These huge infrastructure investments are to transport additional production expected as the result of almost $3.4bn in new mine site investment between now and 2010,&#8221 Mr Roche said.</p> <p>&#8220That’s over $9bn in direct capital investment in Queensland, with industry wearing the investment risk.&#8221</p> <p>The finalisation of a preferred route for the Surat Basin Railway &#8211 the &#8220southern missing link&#8221 &#8211 would be locked down by November, Queensland premier Peter Beattie said when he awarded a consortium an exclusive mandate to build the railway.</p> <p>The Government was satisfied that the proposed 207-km railway linking Wandoan and Banana met public-private-partnership value for money criteria, Mr Beattie said last Wednesday (July 11).</p> <p>The railway proposal, should it proceed, would involve construction of a 207-km link between Wandoan and Banana, and upgrades to the existing rail infrastructure from Toowoomba to Wandoan and Banana to Gladstone. </p> <p>Queensland Rail would retain ownership of the rail infrastructure from Wandoan to Toowoomba and from Banana to Gladstone.</p> <p>The state would retain ownership of the new rail corridor between Wandoan and Banana. </p> <br />