AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Surat rail project boosted by MOU and more coal production

<p>Plans to build a key rail connection in Queensland’s Surat Basin have progressed with the signing of a memorandum of understanding for an inland hub coming just hours after the opening-up of more thermal coal.</p> <p>In something of a double-boost for the Surat Basin Railway’s chief proponent, Australian Transport and Energy Corridor (ATEC), one of the Surat’s major thermal coal mines, New Hope, has expanded its New Acland mine to a production of 4mtpa.</p> <p>The second stage of the mine, opened by deputy premier Anna Bligh yesterday (Thursday, March 22), was worth $60m. </p> <p>About 1mtpa of coal will be used for domestic power consumption and the rest will need to be exported.</p> <p>The viability of the 210-km southern missing rail link between Wandoan and Banana largely rests on demand from coal companies for a connection to the port of Gladstone.</p> <p>ATEC also wants to encourage the development of an intermodal hub at Charlton, 12 km west of Toowoomba.</p> <p>Those plans received a boost yesterday when the signing of the MOU paved the way for groups to begin negotiating for access to a 27.8-ha section of industrial land at Charlton.</p> <p>ATEC will now be able to develop plans for a 2-km rail siding, which is an addition to plans to finish connecting Gladstone to Melbourne with inland rail lines.</p> <p>The project to connect the 4bn tonnes of thermal coal with port facilities could cost $1bn.</p> <br />