QR National said its subsidiary QR Network had reached an agreement with various companies including Xstrata Coal, Aquila Resources, Bandanna Energy and Cockatoo Coal which would allow it to begin stage one construction in early 2012.
First railings for the project is anticipated for mid-2014, with the remaining works due for completion by March 2015.
QR National managing director Lance Hockridge said the project would contribute to a 30% increase in the tonnes transported from the southern Bowen Basin coal region.
“The Wiggins Island rail project will be one of the largest rail expansions in Australia and represents a significant commitment to the future growth of the Australian coal industry,” he said.
“This is the first major rail infrastructure investment by QR National as a privatised entity and underscores our strategy to invest in growth projects in coal.”
The rail project would support an initial 27 million tonnes per annum of coal to the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal.
Construction of the project will consist of a 13 kilometre balloon loop near Gladstone, as well as duplication of sections of track along the Blackwater system.
QR National executive vice president Michael Carter said the Wiggins Island Rail Project would represent an approximately 20% increase in QR Network’s regulated assets.
Bandanna Energy managing director Ray Shaw said the agreement provided a rail solution for its “golden triangle” projects, consisting of Springsure Creek, Arcturus and Arcadia.
“QRN’s expenditure of $900 million-plus for infrastructure is a very strong vote of confidence in WICET and the shipper’s source mines,” Shaw said.
“With this agreement a key piece of the coal supply chain for Bandanna’s golden triangle projects has now been resolved.”
Bandanna has been designated a 4Mtpa allocation in Stage one of Wiggins Island.
The construction phase of the Wiggins Island rail project is expected to generate up to 3000 direct and indirect jobs.