Bulk operator Aurizon says the arrival of a new batch of wagons at the Port of Newcastle represents the continuing growth of the Hunter Valley’s coal industry.
32 newly-built QCHC-class wagons arrived last week at Newcastle, part of a 284-wagon order from a Chinese manufacturer.
The wagons will help Aurizon fulfil a 10-year contract to deliver 8 million tonnes of coal per annum from the Mount Pleasant mine, which Mach Energy bought off Rio Tinto in 2016.
The 15.4-metre-long, stainless steel wagons have steel underframes, and measure 4.3 metres high, and 3 metres wide. Each can carry up to 97.8 tonnes of coal, meaning the 88-wagon trains Aurizon will run from Mount Pleasant will handle roughly 8,600 tonnes per trip.
Aurizon’s NSW coal operations general manager Catherine Baxter said the wagons’ arrival in Newcastle was symbolic of the operator’s continued growth in the Hunter Valley market.
“Our coal haulage has increased from 180,000 tonnes in 2005 to 48 million tonnes in 2017, underlining the broader opportunities in the coal sector for regional employment and income generated in, and for the local community,” she said.
Baxter also pointed to figures released by the Minerals Council of NSW in March indicating stronger coal prices have added over 1,000 mining jobs in the Hunter Valley over the last year.
“When we started out in the Hunter Valley, we had less than 10 employees and we now proudly employ more than 450 people across our operations,” Baxter said.
The latest figures from the Department of Trade and Foreign Affairs show Australia’s coal exports grew 35% in 2017 to a new record of $56.5 billion.
“It’s encouraging to see this is the highest ever annual value of Australian coal exports, surpassing the $46.7 billion record that was achieved in 2011 on the back of the Chinese construction boom,” Baxter said.
“What’s even more encouraging at a local level is the continued global demand for Hunter Valley coal, with 162 million tonnes of coal exported through the Port of Newcastle in FY17.
“While Australia’s high-quality coal remains in strong demand in our key markets, these latest trade figures demonstrate that Newcastle and the Hunter Valley sits at the very heart of this demand.”