PLANNING is gathering momentum for the proposed expansion of coal-loading facilities at the Abbot Point port in Queensland, after the State Government shortlisted two companies to build the new infrastructure.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said mining group Anglo American and NorthHub – a joint venture between Aurizon and Lend Lease – had been selected as potential candidates to develop two new coal terminals which would benefit the burgeoning, critically important export coal sector.
The previous government had proposed a multi-cargo facility at Abbot Point that was rejected by the industry, he said.
“The proposals outlined by the Bligh Government were never going to come to reality. They were unrealistic and undeliverable,” Mr Seeney said.
In coming weeks, the government would enter into negotiations with Anglo American and NorthHub regarding Preferred Proponent Agreements, he said.
Coal is currently Queensland’s leading export earner and volumes are expected to rise dramatically in the near future as a result of increased mining operations in the nearby resources-rich Galilee Basin. Mr Seeney said further demand for terminal development may be considered beyond 2013, once the capacity of current proposals was further understood.
“The government wants to ensure ‘open access’ arrangements are available to companies which are not able to fund terminal developments themselves and wish to access terminal capacity on commercial terms in the future,” he said.
Abbot Point is 25km northwest of Bowen and comprises rail-in loading facilities, coal-handling and stockpiling areas, a single trestle jetty and conveyor, two offshore berths and two shiploaders.
A need for additional export-related infrastructure is also being felt in the state’s south.
At an Enterprise Evening event held at the Port of Brisbane on 9 April, chief executive Russell Smith highlighted the port’s importance as a trade link to overseas and internal markets, and called for the further development of infrastructure in the region to support pending growth.
Mr Smith suggested that modernising the intermodal freight system, addressing key road bottle necks, implementing a fresh rail solution between Toowoomba and the Port of Brisbane, and establishing a coastal shipping service to north Queensland would help the state reach its full export potential.
“These solutions are not a wish list; they will occur, it is just a question of whether we will suffer for another 15 years, or fix it now through government-supported private sector funding solutions,” Mr Smith said.