Talbot urges Queensland to stay ahead of the pack

COAL stalwart Ken Talbot has urged Queensland to stay ahead of its competitors in infrastructure and investment or it risks falling behind the rest of the world and missing out on boom times to come.
Talbot urges Queensland to stay ahead of the pack Talbot urges Queensland to stay ahead of the pack Talbot urges Queensland to stay ahead of the pack Talbot urges Queensland to stay ahead of the pack Talbot urges Queensland to stay ahead of the pack

Ken Talbot

Vivienne Ryan

In a speech given at the 2008 Queensland Coal conference in Brisbane yesterday, Macarthur Coal’s Talbot told delegates Queensland’s coal future depended on it retaining its competitive edge if it was to take advantage of emerging Indian and Brazilian markets.

Queensland’s Bowen Basin is the number one exporter of hard coking coal, leading Canada, Mozambique and Mongolia.

With world growth at 3–4%, Talbot said coal customers were concerned about the long-term supply of raw materials.

Talbot also labelled 2001-10 as Queensland’s lost decade due to infrastructure constraints.

“Our customers don’t believe we can ship sufficient raw materials around the world to satisfy long-term demand,” Talbot said.

He said steel companies were starting to build their mills closer to raw materials, in particular iron ore deposits, which put pressure on coal suppliers to make sure their product was accessible.

“The pressure will continue to be on Queensland infrastructure for the next two decades,” he said.

Talbot urged Australia to learn from India, which had committed $US500 billion over five years to infrastructure development.

He said Queensland coal miners faced stiff competition in the future with Mozambique emerging as a serious competitor.

“I think by 2020, Mozambique could be producing 20 million tonnes per annum plus of metallurgical coal from open cut [operations] and is geographically closer to Indian, Brazil and European markets,” Talbot told the conference.

“Currently infrastructure is an issue but volume/scale allows these issues to be resolved. Mozambique will represent a serious challenge to our Bowen Basin.”

According to Talbot in two decades time the industry could be in a much fiercer competitive environment.

“Today’s investment decisions will need to be based on a long-term outlook,” he said.

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