Abbot Point acceleration

THE Queensland government has applied for federal environmental approval over its Abbot Point dredging plans to underpin an expansion of Adani’s coal terminal – with construction expected to start this calendar year.
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Revised dredging plans for Abbot Point. Map courtesy of Qld govt.

Blair Price

In the application, made by Queensland’s Department of State Development which said it had “a sound record of responsible environmental management”, the proposed work included creating dredged material containment ponds (DMCP) plus dredging about 1 million cubic metres of seabed into them.

The dredging will support plans to expand Abbot’s T0 terminal by 35 million tonnes per annum (existing capacity is 50Mtpa).

The department said the ponds would be within the area previously allocated for the development of BHP Billiton’s proposed up to 60Mtpa Terminal (known as T2).

The study area for the ponds stretches for 136ha while the total dredging footprint is expected to be 61ha.

The department is expecting work on the Adani terminal expansion to start this calendar year with construction tipped to take three to four months.

The Queensland department said capital dredging would start as soon as practical after construction of ponds.

“Mobilisation of the dredge and supply and installation of dredging pipelines will occur over a four to five-month timeframe. DMCP construction, dredging pipe supply and transport to site and dredge mobilisation may occur concurrently. Dredging will take place over a 4 to 6 month timeframe. The operational life of the DMCPs will be defined during preliminary design phase.”

The Queensland Resources Council said the Abbot Point port expansion was one step closer with the revised dredging project now in the federal government’s hands.

“This is another milestone in opening up one of the state’s great energy provinces, the Galilee Basin, and for Adani, to progress its Carmichael mine, North Galilee Basin Rail and Abbot Point port projects,” QRC said.

“The referral is now in the safe hands of the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who will apply his usual forensic scrutiny before exercising his responsibilities under federal environmental legislation.

“The referral of the plans from the Palaszczuk government is further welcome evidence that it is getting on with the job and has systematically been working its way through the task of getting projects in the Galilee Basin up and running.”

According to the ABC, Hunt said the revised dredging covered less than 3% of what was proposed under the Bligh state government.

Queensland Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the referral brought Adani’s Carmichael mine a step closer.

"I understand that Adani wants to have coal out of the Galilee Basin in 2017-2018 so we do hope that we can meet this timeline," he said.

Adani Australia CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraj welcomed the progress on Friday. He said Adani’s projects to build the Carmichael mine and North Galilee Basin Rail, plus expand Abbot Point, would create 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, and $A22 billion in taxes and royalties over the half-life of these projects.

The $16.5 billion Carmichael thermal coal project will involve the development of six open pits and five underground mines over 60 years, with the first surface operation planned for 2016 with a production rate of 5.5 million tonnes per annum.

The project is based on a 388km rail development to link the open cut and underground project to Adani’s Abbot Point coal terminal 25km north of Bowen on the coast, which needs to be expanded to reach full ramp up plans of 60Mtpa.

Initial longwall production from the first underground mine is expected to reach 2.5Mtpa run-of-mine in 2018.

The broader Adani Group conglomerate is India’s leading coal importer and owns the biggest privately owned port in the country.