Tripodi invites further Newcastle investment

AS CONSTRUCTION continues at Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group’s $A1.3 billion new export terminal, New South Wales Port Minister Joe Tripodi is encouraging Hunter Valley producers to chip in for expansion work to double its capacity to 60 million tonnes per annum.

Blair Price

Tripodi said letters have been sent to coal producers to invite them to take part in the expansion work.

“The call for expressions of interest is an important first step towards providing a further 30 million tonnes of capacity at the NCIG terminal,” he said.

“It will help NCIG to make a decision on Stage 2 based on demand requests from Hunter Valley coal producers and potential new players in the industry.”

To help overcome problems with managing coal exports out of Newcastle, key Hunter Valley coal industry players submitted a joint application – called the Hunter Coal Plan – to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission in June.

While an ACCC decision is expected within weeks, the plan requires NCIG to offer 12 million tonnes of capacity to producers who are not part of its consortium.

“Producers who are not part of the NCIG consortium will have the opportunity to request capacity in this expansion project,” Tripodi said.

“It will also be an opportunity for new producers such as Chinese coal mining company Shenhua to participate.”

Three weeks ago an NCIG spokesperson told International Longwall News the new terminal remained scheduled to load its first coal shipment by around the end of March in 2010.

The other Newcastle port operator, Port Waratah Coal Services, will be able to lease additional land from the state government and build a fourth coal terminal on Kooragang Island under the plan.

NCIG’s member companies include BHP Billiton, Centennial Coal, Donaldson Coal, Peabody Energy, Felix and Whitehaven Coal.

Producers that are part of the Hunter Coal Plan include BHP Billiton’s Hunter Valley Energy Coal, Coal & Allied, Xstrata Coal, Anglo Coal Australia, Integra Coal (Vale Australia), Peabody Pacific, Centennial Coal, Austar (Yancoal Australia), Felix Resources, Gloucester Coal, Whitehaven Coal, Donaldson Coal, Bloomfield and Idemitsu.