ACCC approves quota system

A SYSTEM designed to reduce the queue of coal ships at the Port of Newcastle was approved Friday by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), despite the ACCC acknowledging the system has reduced Hunter Valley coal exports in the first half of 2004.
ACCC approves quota system ACCC approves quota system ACCC approves quota system ACCC approves quota system ACCC approves quota system

Port Waratah

Staff Reporter

The system was developed by Port Waratah Coal Services, which operates the coal loading service at the Port of Newcastle. The system has been operating since early April 2004 under an interim authorisation granted by the ACCC in March and final authorisation has now been granted until the end of 2004.

According to the ACCC, the vessel queue was as high as 56 ships before the system began, because coal vessels were arriving at a faster rate than coal could be transported from mines in the Hunter Valley to the port.

The system aims to match the rate of ship arrivals with the capacity of the rail and port systems to transport coal from mine to ship. The vessel queue has dropped substantially since the system began operating, according to the ACCC.

The Newcastle Herald however, quoted Maritime Union of Australia Newcastle secretary Jim Boyle as saying demand had fallen as a result of the plan which has been running with interim approvals since April.

"We made this point very early on in our formal submission, saying this was a plan by PWCS that managed the coal chain by telling customers not to come," Boyle told the newspaper.

To try and ensure the system does not reduce Hunter Valley coal exports, the ACCC has also allowed producers to sell their allocation to one another.

The main advantage, according to the ACCC will be a reduction in the demurrage costs paid by the industry, estimated to be between $110 million and $195 million in 2004.

Overall, the ACCC was satisfied that the public benefit will outweigh the public detriment.

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