Coal gets budget boost

QUEENSLAND’S booming coal industry will be a major beneficiary of the State Government’s recently announced budget, with $A1.4 billion allocated for infrastructure projects to support coal output expansions.

Ben Oliver

New projects, including a feasibility study into the $A1.1 billion “missing link” rail line between the Goonyella system and Newlands line, and an upgrade of Abbot Point, have been included in the Queensland Government’s $A8 billion program for new capital and infrastructure projects over the next 12 months – a $A1.9 billion increase on the previous state record.

 

The Government has projected the upgrades, administered through port authorities and government-owned Queensland Rail (QR), will increase coal export capacity over the next two years by 27 million tonnes per annum to 175Mtpa.

 

Coal is one the state’s biggest export earners, generating $A10 billion per year in export revenue. Treasury has forecast future growth between 5-13% per annum to fiscal 2010, contingent on demand from Asia.

 

Transport minister Paul Lucas said the Bowen Basin coal mining industry had been identified as a major contributor to the state’s coffers.

 

“From Goonyella and Hail Creek out in the Bowen Basin to the exporting facility at the port of Hay Point south of Mackay, this region makes a huge contribution to the state and national economies,” he said.

 

“The efficiency and cost-effectiveness of our ports for their users depends on a strong infrastructure investment program.

 

“Of course, the go-ahead for the $A1.1 billion project depends on the forward commitment of the coal companies and their consequent contracts with both Queensland Rail and the Ports Corporation of Queensland.”

 

Major projects include:

$A70 million to dredge the Hay Point’s departure channel, part of one of the largest coal-loading ports in the world, with a $A13 million contribution from the Ports Corporation.

 

$A11.45 million to upgrade sections of the Goonyella rail system.

 

$A3.9 million contribution for the $A95 million rail line to the Hail Creek mine north of Goonyella.

 

$A19.6 million for further upgrades of the Goonyella rail system. Detailed planning for a further $A170 million of capacity upgrades, including new spur lines and a third balloon loop to Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal has begun.

 

QR will replace sections of track on the main north line between Broadsound and Mackay to increase freight train efficiency. This year’s program includes new sleepers, flood mitigation works, easier curves and better drainage. It completes a $A379.1 million project that began in 1998 to improve services on the line.

 

The Mackay Port Authority has set aside $A13.9 million in infrastructure projects, including $A6.9 million at the airport for more car parking, runway

extension and security measures. It will spend $A7 million on port-related projects including an office/workshop development and drainage at the

Mulherin Park Estate.

 

Queensland Transport will provide a combined $A295,000 towards jetty upgrades at Lindeman Island and Brampton Island.

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