The so-called ‘missing link’ refers to over 70km of no rail infrastructure between the Goonyella and Newlands coal systems, contributing to one of the worst infrastructure bottlenecks in Queensland.
"The proposed $A600 million Northern Missing Link between North Goonyella and Newlands would enable coal from the Bowen Basin coalfields to be railed to Abbot Point, near Bowen," Queensland premier Peter Beattie said.
"It would involve building a new rail line of more than 70km, and upgrading the line from Newlands to Abbot Point.”
The Government released the EIS well ahead of the planned construction phase in 2007-08, during which about 900 jobs will be created.
"We will make sure all environmental issues are ticked off, but I want to make it clear this is a commercial project and the final go-ahead for construction will depend upon committed contracts from our coal miners,” Queensland transport minister Paul Lucas said.
The construction of the missing link will also depend on the expansion of Abbot Point port going ahead, expected to boost throughput to 50 million tonnes per annum.
Lucas said trains running on the line would initially be powered by diesel but electrification of the entire project was also being considered.
Demand for Queensland coal is predicted to increase between 5-13% per annum through to 2009-10.
The Queensland coordinator-general is managing the EIS and related assessment. The draft Terms of Reference are at: www.thepremier.qld.gov.au or at www.sdi.qld.gov.au/eis