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Railways and coal in Australia

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This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of Australia and coal
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Queensland

Existing railway lines

  • the Moura Rail System: this railway line services five coal mines and runs from Moura to Gladstone where it connects to the two export terminals, the RG Tanna Coal Terminal (70 million tonnes per annum capacity) and the Barney Point Coal Terminal (8 million tonnes of capacity) both of which are in the Port of Gladstone. The system also supplies coal to the Gladstone Power Stations, Comalco Refinery (Rio Tinto Alcan), Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) and Cement Australia.[1][2]
  • the Blackwater Rail System: this railway line also connects to the RG Tanna Coal Terminal (70 million tonnes per annum capacity) and the Barney Point Coal Terminal (8 million tonnes of capacity) in the Port of Gladstone.[2]

Proposed railway lines or upgrading of existing lines

  • Goonyella Riverside Mine to BHP Billiton’s proposed terminal at Abbot Point: BHP-Billiton has stated, in a mid-2011 briefing note, that it is "investigating rail and port infrastructure options in the Northern Bowen Basin to support significant potential expansion of existing operations and new operations." It stated that a "key part of this is a dedicated rail line from Goonyella Riverside Mine to BHP Billiton’s proposed terminal at Abbot Point to support BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) and BHP Billiton Mitsui Coal (BMC) operations and future growth projects." BHP Billiton has been selected as the preferred developer of 'T2', a dedicated 60 million tonne per annum export coal terminal at the existing Abbot Point Coal Terminal. The company states that the line would be approximately 250 - 290 kilomentres long and that it has begun work on an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).[6] In a September 2011 investor's presentation BHP-Biliton's Vice President Project Development Metallurgical Coal, Phil Hynes, stated that it was "supportive of shared rail corridor" and was "working with Queensland Government on preferred options".[7] The Australian Financial Review reported that BHP Billiton was referring to using the existing QR National corridor.[8]
The project will have a capacity for 27 million tonnes of coal a year. Construction is scheduled to commence in early 2012 and be commissioned in mid-2014. In a media release QR National's Managing Director & CEO, Lance Hockridge, said "he was delighted to announce the project that will contribute to a 30% increase in the tonnes transported from the southern Bowen Basin coal region". QR National states that "the project includes construction of a 13 kilometre balloon loop near Gladstone, upgrades to sections of the North Coast Line, the Moura System and the Bauhinia branch line, as well as duplication of sections of track along the Blackwater System. Upon completion, the mainline Blackwater System will be fully duplicated."[9]
  • the Surat Basin Railway, which is also occasionally referred to the the Southern Missing Link, QR National states, "is expected to be approximately 210 km in length and is expected to connect Queensland Rail's Western system near Wandoan (230 km north-west of Toowoomba) with QR National's Moura system near Banana (130 km west of Gladstone)."[1] ABARE lists the $1 billion project as being proposed by a consortium of Queensland Rail, ATEC and Xstrata Coal. Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) states that the project would have a capacity of 42 million tonnes per annum.[10]
  • the Blackwater Power Project, a $195 million upgrade which will nearly double the electrical capacity on the Blackwater Rail System. QR National states on its website that "increasing the electrical capacity of the system will allow more new high-capacity electric trains to operate on the Blackwater network. The upgrades will see 33 all-electric locomotives in operation upon completion in 2012. An extensive program of works has already been completed: the duplication of approximately 80 per cent of the system, providing customers with greater supply chain flexibility to meet growing export demand.[11] Originally due for completion in late 2012 it is now sceduled to be completed in June 2012.[12][13]
  • Dingo to Walton rail duplication is a proposed rail duplication project on part of the Blackwater Rail System. The project is listed by Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) in May 2011 as a $90 million project by QR National which is "awaiting final approval". ABARE lists the project as having a completion date of 2012.[10] QR National's 2010 COALRail Infrastructure Program Review identifies the project as having been listed in its 2008 Master Plan as being at the 'prefeasibility" stage but nost listed as being in the 2009 Master Plan. However, it is unclear whether the upgrade is included within what is listed in the 2009 Master Plan's "Blackwater System Expansion - Concept Study".[15]

New South Wales

In New South Wales the Australian Rail and Track Corporation (ARTC) leases the railway tracks in the Hunter Valley from the New South Wales government. As a result ARTC is responsible for all track upgrades to cater for expanded coal traffic. The actual trains are operated by both QR National and Pacific National.

Existing railway lines

Proposed railway lines or upgrading of existing lines

  • Liverpool Range rail project is listed by ABARES as a $284 million project proposed by the Australian Rail and Track Corporation to upgrade the 30 kilometres Willow Tree to Murrurundi section of line. ABARES identifies the project as having been subject to a feasibility study and is scheduled to be completed in 2014. ref name="Major"/>
  • Western Rail Coal Unloader is listed by ABARES as a $80 million project proposed by Delta Electricity to be built near its power stations near Lithgow. The project has been approved by the New South Wales government and is scheduled to be completed in 2012. The project will allow the unloading of 8 million tonnes of coal a year.[10] On its website Delta states that its "Western power stations are the only power stations in NSW which do not have a rail coal unloader. This new facility will help ensure adequate and competitively priced supplies of coal for the existing Mt Piper and Wallerawang Power Stations."[18]
  • Dombarton - Maldon railway line: In its 2011 state budget submission the NSW Minerals Council urged the New South Wales government to complete the stalled project "to facilitate more rail transport of coal and alleviate capacity pressures across the Illawarra transport network."[19]
  • Cobbora spur line: a proposed 25 kilometre rail line to connect the proposed 30 million tonnes a year Cobbora Coal Project to the existing rail network.[20] It has been estimated that the necessary railway infrastrsucture would cost $120 million.[21]

Western Australia

Existing railway lines

Proposed railway lines or upgrading of existing lines

  • Berth 14 coal export terminal, Bunbury: In early August 2011 Lanco Infratech, the parent company of Griffin Coal -- which owns and operates the Collie coal mines -- met with the West Australian Premier Colin Barnett. According to a report in the West Australian, the meeting was to discuss the company's "hopes to complete an expansion of Bunbury Port's inner harbour by the end of 2013 to allow it to start exporting coal to India" after a tripling of production from the Collie coal mines.[22] It has been reported that Lanco has also floated the idea of exporting coal through the port of Albany. However, Albany Port Authority chief executive Brad Williamson stated that he knew nothing about the option. Local political representatives discounted the suggestion as Lanco trying to improve its bargaining position in negotiations with the State government.[23] In early September 2011 Lanco announced that it planned to spend up to $400 million upgrading Berth 14 at the Bunbury Port to allow coal exports from Collie in 2014.[24] Lanco's proposal for coal exports involves the construction of a "a new rail loop and dump station as shown per Bunbury Port Authority, Bunbury Inner Harbour, Future Planning Options and Planning concepts."[25] The Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority states that, as of August 3, 2011, an Environmental Scoping Document is currently being prepared by the agency.[26]
  • Collie to Bunbury railway upgrade According to a report of a Lanco open day at Bunbury, the upgrading of the railway line between Collie and the port would be necessary to facilitate coal exports.[27]

South Australia

Existing railway lines

Proposed railway lines or upgrading of existing lines

  • Railway to the proposed Sheep Hill Deep Water Port. The Sheep Hill Deep Water Port is a proposal which has been floated by Centrex Metals, a small Australian mineral exploration company, for a multi-cargo port at Port Lincoln in South Australia. While primarily proposed to cater for possible iron ore exports from South Australia, in a 2009 presentation Centrex lists a possible user for a new port as being the export of coal from Energy Exploration Ltd's Lock coal project. Centrex states, based on a "personal comment" from Energy Exploration, that the coal project had a notional start date of 2010 and a possible export range of 3-5 million tonnes per annum.[29] The port would require requite the construction of a new spur railway line and the upgrading of the existing railway line.

Articles and resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 QR National, "Moura System Overview", QR National website, accessed September 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Queensland Ports Corporation, "Port of Gladstone Information Handbook 2011", Queensland Ports Corporation, March 2011, page 13.
  3. QR National, "Projects Under Construction", QR National website, accessed September 2011.
  4. QR National, "Newlands System Overview", QR National website, accessed September 2011.
  5. QR National, "QR National has bridged the GAP", Media Release, September 21, 2011.
  6. BHP-Billiton, "Goonyella to Abbot Point Rail Project", BHP Billiton website, July 2011.
  7. Phil Hynes Vice President Project Development Metallurgical Coal, "Steelmaking material briefing", BHP Billiton, September 30, 2011, page 49.
  8. Jamie Freed, "BHP Billiton will struggle to meet demand for coking coal", Australian Financial Review, October 1-2, 2011, pages 14-15. (Sub req'd).
  9. QR National, "QR National signs agreement with coal mining consortium on Wiggins island Rail project", Media Release September 5, 2011.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, "Minerals and energy: major development projects - April 2011 Listing", Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, May 26, 2011.
  11. QR National, "Blackwater Power Systems Strengthening", QR National website, accessed September 2011.
  12. QR National, "Major coal network electrical project months ahead of schedule", Media Release, August 26, 2011.
  13. Tony Grant-Taylor, "BHP Billiton working on railway plan", Courier Mail, August 19, 2011.
  14. "QR National approves $185 million expansion of Goonyella coal rail network", Media Release, March 25, 2011.
  15. QR National, "COALRail Infrastructure Program Review: Investing in Queensland’s coal rail Infrastructure since 2006", QR National, August 2010.
  16. Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, "Alpha coal mine", Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, website, accessed September 2011.
  17. Warath Coal, "China First Coal Project", Waratah Coal website, accessed September 2011.
  18. Delta Electricity, "Western Rail Coal Unloader", Delta Electricity website, accessed September 2011.
  19. NSW Minerals Coucnil, "Its Time to Take NSW to number one: Submission to the NSW Budget 2011-2012, NSW Minerals Coucnil, page 26.
  20. Department of Planning & Infrastructure, "http://majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au/index.pl?action=view_job&job_id=3695", Department of Planning & Infrastructure website accessed October 2011.
  21. Brian Robins, "Mine deal may cost taxpayers $6b", Sydney Morning Herald, March 18, 2011.
  22. Amanada Saunders, "WA power dispute snares Indian billionaire", West Australian, August 5, 2011.
  23. Daniel Mercer, "Albany port of choice for coal?", Albany Advertiser, August 24, 2011.
  24. Sofi Lawson, "Plan for port revealed", Collie Mail, September 8, 2011.
  25. Parsons Brinckerhoff Australia, "Referral of Proposal - Bunbury Port Berth 14 Development for Coal Storage and Loading Facility Referral Supporting Document", April 2011.
  26. Environmental Protection Authority, Status of Active Formal Assessments, Environmental Protection Authority, August 3, 2011.
  27. Sofi Lawson, "1500 jobs boom", Collie Mail, September 8, 2011.
  28. Asciano Group, Investor Day Presentation, Asciano, September 15, 2011.
  29. Gerard Anderson, Managing Director Centrex Minerals, Centrex DAC Application for Port Lincoln, April 1, 2009, page 37. (Pdf)

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