Abbot Point to get super-sized

WARATAH Coal, Rio Tinto Coal and the North Queensland Coal Terminal have been announced as preferred developers for a revamped $A9 billion Abbot Point expansion.
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The Abbot Point expansion.

Lauren Barrett

The Queensland Government yesterday announced a plan to further extend the expansion from the planned seven terminals up to nine, which will put it on the map as one of the largest coal export facilities in the world.

Abbot Point currently has one export terminal and two under development by BHP Billiton and Hancock Coal.

Premier Anna Bligh said the announcement for a super upgrade of the terminal comes on the back of overwhelming demand from the private sector for development of the port.

Bligh said Abbot Point was now destined to become one the worlds key export hubs.

"This is a major new development that will drive an enormous economic surge through north Queensland, potentially creating tens of thousands of jobs," Bligh said.

"The super expansion of Abbot Point will turbo charge the local economy and boost Queensland's exports to the world.”

The proposed expansion will see export capacity at the port rise from 50 million tonnes per annum to 400Mtpa by 2017.

Commenting on its preferred respondent status for the right to develop terminals T4 to T9, Waratah Coal chairman Clive Palmer said it would guarantee port site for the company’s $8 billion China First Coal project.

“This is a significant milestone for the China First Coal Project, which will create 6,000 jobs during construction and support on average an additional 3000 jobs through flow-on activity,” he said.

“The project is estimated to generate $4.6 billion per annum in export revenues and increase Queensland government and federal government revenues by $343 million per annum and $709 million per annum respectively.”

The China First Coal project will include a large scale thermal coal mine near Alpha, comprising of four underground mines and two surface mines.

As a preferred respondent, Waratah will now work exclusively with North Queensland Bulk Ports to negotiate a framework agreement.

Other preferred respondents for the expansion plan include Anglo American Metallurgical Coal and North Queensland Coal Terminal, a consortium of coal miners including Macarthur Coal, Peabody Energy, New Hope Corporation, Middlemount Coal and Carabella Resources.

NQCT will have the right to 30Mtpa at Abbot Point, in which Carabella Resources announced it secured 2Mtpa capacity via its 6.7% holding in NQCT.

Carabella said NQCT was expected to complete the construction of the terminal by the time its Grosvenor West project had ramped up to full production.

Meanwhile, Bandanna Energy’s South Galilee coal project , a 50% joint venture project with AMCI, has missed out on preferred respondent status for the T4-9 expansion.

The joint venture had originally sought a 15Mtpa allocation at the proposed port expansion, given its South Galilee Coal Project was expected to produce 13.6 Mtpa.

Bandanna said the Northern Queensland Bulk Ports had invited the South Galilee coal project JV in to early discussions in order to explore other options for securing port capacity at Abbot Point.

The Queensland Resources Council welcomed the plans for a super expansion at Abbot Point.

“This announcement today shows that the industry is willing to play its part in ensuring that export port capacity is not a bottleneck for a strongly growing coal sector,” QRC chief executive Michael Roche said.

However Roche warned that labour, electricity and water supply challenges needed to be addressed to coincide with the Abbot Point expansion.

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