COAL miners have been given the go ahead to negotiate with Dudgeon Point Project Management (DPPM) for access to its proposed coal terminal at Dudgeon Point, around 960km north of Brisbane in the Port of Hay Point, and coal terminals at Abbot Point, around 1160km north of Brisbane.
Carabella Resources, Macarthur Coal, Middlemount Coal, New Hope Corporation and Peabody Energy Australia have received approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to collectively bargain with DPPM regarding the terms and conditions, including price, for the development of and access to the terminal, which will join Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal and Hay Point Coal Terminal in servicing the coal
mines of Central Queensland. The new coal terminals will add between 150 million tonnes per annum and 180mtpa capacity to the Port of Hay Point (depending on how the stockyard is operated), to provide a total port capacity of between 290mtpa and 320mtpa.
The coal mining companies, along with Rio Tinto Coal Australia, also sought two authorisations to collectively bargain with QR Network for access to below-rail infrastructure in order to service both the DPPM terminal and the coal terminals at Abbot Point.
The ACCC authorised all three arrangements for 15 years. This will allow the companies to negotiate during the development of the coal terminals and for any agreements to be entered into for an initial 10-year term.
“The ACCC considers that all three arrangements will result in significant transaction cost savings and help to avoid potential delays in the construction of various coal terminals and new coal export earnings,” ACCC acting chairman Dr Michael Schaper said.
“The ACCC is satisfied that the voluntary nature of the arrangements, the limited composition of the collective bargaining group and the limited scope of the negotiations will mean that any potential detriment is minimal.”
The authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, as the ACCC can grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.
The expected total construction cost of the Dudgeon Point project, which will include new terminals at Dudgeon Point, a rail connection to Dudgeon Point and ancillary services, is currently estimated at between $10 billion and $12 billion.
DPPM expects to submit a draft environmental impact study by mid-2012. Following State and Commonwealth Government decisions expected in early 2013, it should begin construction in midto late-2013, with operations starting in 2015-2016.
By Rachel Seeley