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Whitehaven coal infrastructure network takes shape

WHITEHAVEN Coal is bedding down the infrastructure requirements for its New South Wales mines with its first Aurizon train beginning operation last week as part of a 30-tonne axle load trial.

Lou Caruana
Whitehaven coal infrastructure network takes shape

The train unit was fitted with special monitoring equipment to assess the impact of heavier locomotives on the Gunnedah Basin rail track.

The trial is the first stage of a joint work program with Australian Rail Track Corporation to increase the maximum payload of Gunnedah Basin trains from 6300t to over 8000t from Q1 2015.

Whitehaven has rolling 10-year port contracts at PWCS for 5.9Mtpa increasing to 8Mtpa in calendar year 2015.

The company secured 16.4Mt in additional port capacity at Newcastle, spread over the period from May 2012 to June 2016. This additional capacity covers the planned growth in Whitehaven's coal exports prior to the start of additional 10-year rolling capacity entitlements at PWCS.

Whitehaven has nominated to PWCS for additional rolling 10-year port contracts from calendar year 2015 in the order of 7Mtpa. This gives Whitehaven long-term port entitlements of 21Mtpa.

“This port capacity is sufficient for all of Whitehaven’s growth plans except Vickery, for which capacity will be sought in due course via the annual PWCS nomination process,” the company said.

“Whitehaven has rail track capacity in place for current and medium-term needs and is working actively with ARTC to ensure that all planned track expansion upgrades are available to meet Whitehaven’s needs.”

During the June quarter, Port Waratah Coal Services and the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group each announced reductions in their coal-handling charge, effective May 1 and July 1 respectively.

The benefit of these reductions to Whitehaven Coal for FY2014 is more than $16 million.

With the delay to Narrabri ramp-up last year and the lengthy delay to the Maules Creek approval, Whitehaven has surplus port and rail track capacity in FY2013-14.

This is expected to add about $4/t to cash FOB cost in FY2013-14.

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