PWCS pushes for Xstrata, Rio preferential treatment

COAL producers Xstrata and Rio Tinto could receive preferential access to expansion at Newcastle Port undertaken by Port Waratah Coal Services if a request from the port operator is approved by the New South Wales Government.

Angie Tomlinson
PWCS pushes for Xstrata, Rio preferential treatment

Port Waratah Coal Services, 49%-owned by majors Rio Tinto and Xstrata, is seeking the consent of the NSW Government to amend the “common user” lease provisions at PWCS’ Kooragang Island facility to have similar provisions to those in PWCS' Carrington lease.

The new system will enable PWCS to give preference to those customers that may not be able to obtain access to coal handling services from incoming coal loading operator the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG).

NCIG, made up of BHP Billiton, Centennial Coal, Donaldson Coal, Peabody Energy, Felix Resources and Whitehaven Coal, will build and operate a third terminal at Kooragang Island adjacent to the PWCS site.

The group has received environmental approval to construct and operate its terminal and has publicly announced that it expects to load its first ship in the second half of 2009.

PWCS on Wednesday lodged a request with the Newcastle Port Corporation to allow the changes to take effect from January 1, 2010. PWCS has asked the NPC for formal feedback for the next PWCS board meeting in late July.

If approval is given, long-term contracts between PWCS and the relevant coal customers would be signed almost immediately, providing the customers with preferential access and operational certainty and security from 2010.

PWCS chairman Eileen Doyle said the new framework was critical to provide operational certainty for PWCS and underpinned further expansion of PWCS’ coal loading facilities.

“PWCS customers not affiliated with the NCIG have clearly indicated their future demand requirements,” Doyle said.

“Accordingly, PWCS is positioning to further expand its operations and boost coal exports from 102 million tonnes per annum to 113Mtpa.

“Costing $A458 million and scheduled for operation in the final quarter of 2009, the latest PWCS expansion will provide our long-term customers with both growth and surge capacity.”

The additional expansion involves up-rating two receival and three stacking streams, installation of a new reclaimer and stacker, integrity work plus the replacement of two of the original terminal reclaimers.

Doyle said the NSW Government “quite rightly” expected both PWCS and NCIG to develop the necessary facilities to meet their customers’ needs.

“However, there have been no public indications that the proposed NCIG terminal will be an open access terminal,” Doyle said.

“Further, public documents indicate that NCIG capacity is being constructed for its members.”


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