Last month an implementation memorandum agreement for access was agreed to by all 14 Hunter Valley producers through terminal operators Port Waratah Coal Services and Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group, meeting an extended ACCC deadline.
At the time, New South Wales Ports Minister Joe Tripodi said the new long-term arrangement contained measures missing from the terminal access framework agreement delivered by former NSW premier Nick Greiner last year.
These include an industry levy to help fund new terminal infrastructure when required, triggers requiring terminals to build new capacity on demand and guaranteed access for new entrants and expanding producers, as well as protection for small producers.
ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel commended the recent efforts of the coal industry and the NSW government in getting to a point where a long-term solution was now close to being implemented in the Hunter Valley.
“There is, however, a lot of work for the industry to complete in order to implement the long-term solution by its target date of June 30,” ACCC said.
“Any unnecessary delays in finalising a long-term solution would generate significant public detriment.
“However, the ACCC is satisfied that the operation of the current capacity balancing system has not stalled the industry's progress in this regard.”
In granting its interim authorisation of the capacity balancing system, the ACCC provides immunity to NCIG and PWCS from potential court action on port operations that could be deemed anti-competitive.