Wet weather and surging demand from both China and India has pushed the spot price of thermal coal to $US100 a tonne, above the current December quarter contract price of around $US97/t.
Goldman Sachs last month raised its 2011 thermal coal price target to $US105/t and expects coal supplies will tighten in the northern winter.
Dudgeon Point, which lies about 5 kilometres north of the Hay Point coal terminals owned by BHP Billiton and Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal Management (DBCT), is expected to be the port of choice for Indian giant Adani Group, which recently paid Linc Energy $750 million for its coal exploration assets in the Galilee Basin.
DBCT, in conjunction with Adani and North Queensland Bulk Ports, is the preferred tenderer for a doubling of planned capacity at Dudgeon Point to 120 million tonnes per annum.
While first exports from Dudgeon Point were slated for late 2016, coal miners are believed to be pushing for a quicker approvals process and an earlier production date of 2015 to capitalise on historically rising prices and demand for coal.
DBCT has received requests from Anglo Coal, Rio Tinto Coal & Allied, BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, Xstrata, Peabody, Macarthur, Vale and Aquila Resources for 90Mtpa of additional capacity despite the fact that it currently has only 85Mtpa capacity.
After entering a six-month consultation and planning process involving North Queensland Bulk Ports and Adani, DBCT is expected to decide how the land will be allotted for development and then seek an allocation of land from the Queensland government.