Bowen Rail Company to enter Queensland haulage market

A new rollingstock operator is in the process of establishing itself to haul coal to Abbot Point.

Bowen Rail Company has applied for accreditation as a rollingstock operator with the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR). If the application is successful, the Bowen Rail Company will legally be able to operate rollingstock.

The Bowen-based business, which according to reports is owned by mining company Adani, stated in an August press release that it will be focused on servicing the Abbot Point terminal, where Adani will export the coal mined at its Carmichael mine.

“Bowen Rail Company’s initial focus will be to provide haulage services to the existing Abbot Point export terminal using the industry’s most technologically advanced rail fleet.”

The press release states that the company has purchased locomotives and rollingstock, with the first four locomotives to arrive in 2021. Bowen Rail Company head of project delivery David Wassel said the type of locomotives purchased would enable the company to hire more broadly.

“The benefit of our fleet is that it can be operated by anyone once they have had the right training, regardless of their physical size, age or experience, which means we can open up operator-type roles to a much broader workforce and to people who haven’t necessarily worked in the rail sector,” he said.

“Our goal is to ensure approximately half of our workforce is comprised of new-to-rail industry employees.”

The establishment of the company follows Adani’s struggle to secure an above-rail haulage agreement with an established operator.

In 2019, Adani was snubbed by Genesee & Wyoming Australia, now known as One Rail Australia, and Aurizon had been under pressure from shareholders to not provide above-rail services to Adani. Aurizon said it was not aware of Adani seeking to negotiate above-rail services.

“We are not aware Adani has commenced any commercial process with regard to the tender of above-rail haulage contracts or indeed whether they intend to,” said an Aurizon spokesperson.

Adani will still have to negotiate an access agreement with Aurizon to use the Central Queensland Coal Network, which connects that Carmichael Rail Network to the Abbot Point terminal. Aurizon is legally obliged to consider and assess all access requests however a spokesperson said that all requests are confidential.

“We cannot comment on any discussions that may occur as part of any application made by Adani,” the Aurizon spokesperson said.

To meet the other requirements of operating a rail haulage company, a Bowen Rail Company spokesperson said the company would go it alone.

“Bowen Rail Company will be self-sufficient with respect to rollingstock maintenance and supporting infrastructure. All contract arrangements are commercial in confidence.”

Construction of the Carmichael Rail Network is currently underway, with piling for bridge structures about to begin.


Martinus beginning major works on Carmichael Rail Network

Martinus is about to begin piling works for the first bridge on the Carmichael Rail Network.

Already, construction of the first of many waterway crossings has begun while bulk earthworks continue.

Chief operating officer Ryan Baden said the project involved a number of civil construction processes.

“We are delivering the port-side civil works, which is around 86 kilometres of the earthworks formation with 10 multi-span superstructures – one that spans 50 metres, 87 culvert structures and three-million cubic meters of cut to fill.”

The $340 million works program, announced in two separate contracts, covers rail laying to connect the Adani mine to the Central Queensland Coal Network, and the associated civil construction works.

To prepare the rail for installation, on-site flash-butt welding is taking place.

Martinus has 300 staff on site working on the project and is looking to involve locals wherever possible.

Adani awards second rail civil works contract

The contract for civil construction works on the Carmichael Rail Network has been awarded to BMD.

Mining company Adani announced that the $350 million contract would include earthworks, drainage, bridges, rail camp construction, and road upgrades to connect the Adani mine site to the Central Queensland Coal Network.

The announcement is the second civil works contract awarded for the Carmichael Rail Network, with Martinus delivering a separate package of work.

Adani Mining CEO Lucas Dow said that the local company would be suited for the job.

“BMD is a proud Queensland company and we’re thrilled to have them on board and delivering the largest package of works awarded on our project,” said Dow.

“As people will already know BMD has operated in North Queensland for more than 25 years, with Townsville forming their regional base for delivery of this contract.”

Dow expects the works to create 600 jobs.

Scott Power, group executive director – operations at BMD said that local suppliers and communities would benefit.

“At a time when jobs across the country are hard to come by, this project is generating much needed employment opportunities for locals and locally based suppliers in north and central Queensland,” said Power.

“The award of this contract is recognition of the capability and capacity of Australian contractors and provides a boost for our teams, supply chain and the communities in which we operate.”

In total, 200km of rail will be constructed, comprising 26,417 tonnes of steel and 319,000 sleepers. The line will progress over 460 culverts, 17 bridges over waterways, 2 road over rail bridges, 68 crossings, and local road upgrades.

Adani awards civil construction contract for Carmichael Rail Network

Adani has awarded the civil construction contract for the Carmichael Rail Network to Martinus.

The $220 million contract includes 86km of rail formation works, a road over rail bridge, nine waterway bridges and over 200 culverts and 35 rail crossings.

The rail project extends for 200km of narrow gauge rail linking the Carmichael Mine to existing rail infrastructure.

Measures in line with coronavirus (COVID-19) precautions have been put in place, said Adani Mining CEO Lucas Dow.

“We’re following all advice from Queensland Health and the federal government and doing all we can to keep our people and the community safe,” he said.

“We also understand how important it is to continue our operations where safe and practicable to provide certainty of employment for our staff and contractors.

“I want to make it clear that the health and safety of our staff is our first priority, however where we are able to continue to operate safely and in line with advice, we will do so.”

Social distancing measures, health screening, and increased hygiene practices are part of the efforts to prevent any spread of COVID-19.

Adani awarded a previous $100 million contract for track works. To date, the first rail camp is complete, with a second under construction and a third about to begin. Across the entire 200km network 26,147 tonnes of steel will be used and 319,000 sleepers will be laid. The entire project will include 460 culverts, 17 bridges over waterways, two road over rail bridges, 68 railway crossings, and local road upgrades.

The workforce for the project will be based out of Rockhampton and Townsville.

Martinus is half owned by Malaysian contractor Gamuda, which indicated in a press release in October 2019 that it was seeking to further enter the Australian rail market. Gamuda has also set up a local subsidiary, Gamuda Engineering Australia.

Coal. Photo: Shutterstock

Adani awards $100m rail contract

Adani Mining awarded a $100 million rail contract to Martinus Rail, after Martinus was 50 per cent acquired by Malaysia’s Gamuda Berhad.

Under the contract Martinus Rail will build a 200-kilometre rail link from the $2 billion Carmichael mine to Aurizon’s Central Queensland Coal Network, facilitating passage to Adani’s export facilities at Abbot Point.

Upon its 50 per cent acquisition of Martinus, Gamuda announced it would immediately begin bidding for $20 billion worth of construction projects in Australia as part of its plans to leverage Australia’s $300 billion infrastructure development pipeline. Gamuda’s joint venture partners have previously worked with the India-based Adani in Asia.

“We are keen to now get started and looking forward to partnering with numerous local Rockhampton and other regional Queensland businesses and people to get our part of the project under way,” said Martinus Rail managing director Treaven Martinus.

Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow said the company had now awarded more than $450 million worth of contracts for the Carmichael project, in the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland.

According to a media release from the federal minister for resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan, the company also announced it was establishing a business centre in Rockhampton, Central Queensland.

“[The] new Rockhampton Business Centre will support recruitment and local business contracting for its Carmichael Project mine,” said the government statement.

“I spent years fighting for the Adani project because it means delivering jobs and economic activity for regional Queensland. These announcements are more proof in the pudding,” said Canavan about the announcement.

Environmental activists have been holding weekly protests in front of the offices of companies involved in the Carmichael coal project and are expected to target Martinus Rail.

Adani making noises to move own Carmichael coal

Adani has set up an Indian subsidiary to focus on rail projects and reportedly applied for accreditation to operate rollingstock in Queensland, raising the idea it may plan to freight its own coal from its Australian mine.

According to India Times, Adani told the Indian stock exchange on Thursday: “The company has incorporated a wholly own subsidiary for the business of building, construction of transportation facilities like the metro and monorail segment, rapid rail transit system, and engineering, procurement and construction, thereof.”

Meanwhile,  ABC on Thursday reported on documents from the Queensland Office of State Development which show that the company has applied for accreditation as a licensed Rail Infrastructure Manager and Rolling Stock Operator.

The company is also yet to put out a tender for rail haulage from its mine site despite its deadline for exporting coal from the Carmichael mine site in 20 months’ time.

The ABC spoke to an analyst who believes Adani will not undergo conducting its own freight operations due to the upfront capital costs.

You’re talking $100 million plus for locomotives and wagons, plus maintenance costs and staffing — maybe up to $200 million,” one analyst told reporters, arguing that Adani will use the threat of conducting its own operations as “a bargaining chip to use in negotiations” with providers.

Adani is looking to build a narrow-gauge spur line to link to Aurizon’s Central Queensland Coal Network (which links mines to Queensland’s major coal ports).

Coal. Photo: Shutterstock

Palaszczuk calls for timeline on Adani mine and rail approval

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has called for a final approval deadline to be set in place for Adani’s long-delayed Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project.

Mining company Adani’s controversial project, located in the Galilee Basin region of Queensland, has been subject to repeated approval delays over the last two years.

Adani’s plan for the development encompasses an open-cut and underground coal mine capable of producing 60 million tonnes of product a year, and a 189-kilometre freight rail line running from the mine to port facilities at Hay Point and Abbot Point.

Premier Palaszczuk has now advised that the state co-ordinator general meet with Adani and the project’s independent regulator tomorrow to force a final deadline.

“The community is sick of it, I’m sick of it, everyone is sick of the delays,” Palaszczuk said.

“Everyone has had more than enough time to resolve these issues and for some reason that has not occurred – that all ends now.”

Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow stated that if an approval timeframe is not concluded within the next two weeks then the meeting will have represented a stalling tactic by the Queensland Labor Government.

“We are looking forward to receiving a call from the coordinator general so we can meet first thing tomorrow morning, and at that meeting I will be seeking the timeline for approving the two outstanding management plans come to a conclusion within the next two weeks,” Dow said in a statement.

“Any timeframe for a decision on these outstanding management plans longer than the next two weeks is nothing more than another delaying tactic by the Queensland Labor Government designed to delay thousands of jobs for regional Queenslanders.”