AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Queensland moves on coal export ‘missing links’

<table width="493" border="0"> <tr> <td><p>The Queensland Government is to spend $25m to fast-track two long mooted coal infrastructure projects: the expansion of Abbot Point coal terminal, and a link up of two northern coal railway networks.</p> <p>The plans could see a $500m expansion of Abbot Point from 15m tonnes to 25m tonnes by 2008, and a $600m, 74-km, "missing link" filled in between the Goonyella and Newlands coal rail systems.</p> <p>Sources said that filling in the missing northern rail link has been in proposal form for 15 years, with no action by the Queensland Government. </p> <p>Premier Peter Beattie said this week that the Ports Corporation of Queensland and Queensland Rail would now carry out detailed feasibility, design and approval works for both projects. </p><p>&nbsp</p><p>Abbot Point is used by Xstrata to ship thermal and coking coal, and the rail link would give flexibility for Rio Tinto or Anglo-American to ship through Dalrymple Bay or Abbot Point. </p> <p>Mr Beattie said that feasibility studies would take 12 to 18 months and actual construction a further 24 to 30 months, meaning new infrastructure in 2008 at the earliest. </p> <p>He admitted that requests from Abbot Point users suggest a demand of 21m tonnes by the second half of 2007. </p> <p>Mr Beattie said forecasts for Queensland coal range from 5% to 13% a year to 2009&#4710, driven by China and India. </p> <p>Final go-ahead would depend on the coal companies contracting with PCQ and QR, and negotiations on recovery of the costs of the projects, he said. </p> <p>The Queensland Government is already spending $208m on upgrading Gladstone, and $335m on the Goonyella and Blackwater rail system upgrades. </p> <p>Meanwhile, the <em>Australian Financial Review</em> reports that the coal companies using Dalrymple Bay might attempt to enforce what they say is a contractual obligation by terminal owner Prime Infrastructure to ship 56m tonnes.</p> <p>Macarthur Coal, which is acting as a spokesman for the coal producers, said that the shortfall to 51m tonnes is costing $1.9m a day in demurrage. </p> <p>However, Prime blames the shortfall on the rail delivery side of the operation. </p> </td> </tr> </table> <br />