Port of Hastings expansion
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Port of Hastings expansion is a proposed port expansion project at Hastings, Victoria, Australia. One potential goal of the project would be to facilitate the export of brown coal from Victoria's Latrobe Valley coalfields. However, development of a successful large-scale coal export industry at Hastings would likely require new infrastructure including a rail link to the port and a substantial coal drying facility. The project has encountered resistance both from environmentalists and from planners who suggest that an alternative new port at McGauran's Beach is a more cost-effective long-term solution.
- Operator: Government of Victoria
- Location: Hastings, Victoria, Australia
- Proposed Annual Coal Capacity (Tonnes): unknown (up to 20 million)
- Status: Proposed
- Type: Exports
- Proposed coal source: Latrobe Valley coalfields, Victoria, Australia
- Cost: US$9.4 billion
January 2015 Update
Plans to develop an expanded coal export port and and associated infrastructure at the Port of Hastings remain inconclusive and controversial. Environmentalists continue to protest plans for a large coal port in Hastings, citing the elevated carbon emissions and high flammability of Victoria's brown coal and the potential for damage to coastal habitats.
A month-long 2014 coal fire near the Latrobe Valley town of Morwell cast a spotlight on the health hazards associated with brown coal, prompting an outcry among community members and environmental groups even as the government of Victoria reiterated its commitment to developing a coal export industry based on expansion of the Port of Hastings or a new dock at Port Anthony or McGauran's Beach (both to the east of Hastings).
Recent discussions of potential new rail links to facilitate export of Latrobe Valley coal have focused on construction of an alternative new port at McGauran's Beach, with the Port of Hastings and Port Anthony seen as secondary, less cost-effective options. At a June 2014 government hearing on opportunities for increasing exports of goods and services from regional Victoria, Jon McNaught of the Gippsland Resources Infrastructure Development group (a consortium of 15 private companies promoting exports from Victoria's Gippsland region) stated that port expansion at Hastings might be a good short-term solution for brown coal exports from the Latrobe Valley, but said McGauran's Beach was a more attractive option given the Port of Hastings' inability to handle larger export volumes beyond 20 million tons per year. However, as of June 2015 there appear to be no proposals of a coal terminal at McGauran's Beach, and viability for large-scale coal exports out of Port Anthony is limited by the port's size and the lack of efficient transport between the Latrobe Valley and the port.
Documents obtained by the Greens under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that in October 2009 the Victorian Transport Department was foreshadowing the establishment of a major coal-based export industry in the State. In a submission to Infrastructure Australia, the government agency argued that there was a need for the development of the Port of Hastings as up to 6 million tonnes of brown coal and 2.4 million tonnes of coal-based fertiliser could be exported by 2020. It also foreshadowed the production of up to 4 million tonnes of liquid fuel from brown coal.(For a copy of the document obtained under FOI see the links in the "External resources" section below).
In November 2010 a spokeswoman for Energy Minister Peter Batchelor told The Age that "there are currently no companies in Victoria that have a technically proven and commercially viable means of exporting brown coal at anything approaching the scale suggested in the report, and this is unlikely to change in the near future." The spokeswoman, Roxanne Punton, said that the state government had no plans for a coal allocation tender "at this stage".
Baillieu government pushes port expansion
Following the election of the Baillieu government in November 2010, the Ports Minister, Denis Napthine, stated that he wanted the federal government to fund the cost of a new rail line and road to Hastings. In response to the release of the National Ports Strategy, Napthine dismissed the view of the previous state government that there was no pressing need to upgrade the port and emphasised to upgrade Hastings to cater for increased container traffic. He also argued that the federal government should change the environmental assessment process for new ports to allow for faster decisions. The Committee for Melbourne also supported Napthine's plan to develop Hastings.
The cost of the development of the deep water port and container terminal was estimated in June 2010 by the Transport Department and Major Projects Victoria as US$9.4 billion if developed within 10 years or $12.5 billion in 20 years. The cost of rail and road upgrading for the port was estimated to cost $5.5 billion in the 10-year development option. The Age reported that a second document by consultants Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu supported the department's estimates.
Articles and resources
- "No Coal Port in Hastings", Quit Coal, November 10, 2013.
- Adam Morton, "Fire at Morwell reignites brown-coal debate", The Age, March 9, 2014.
- "Valley's $3 billion rail and port link", Latrobe Valley Express, August 19, 2013.
- "Inquiry into the opportunities for increasing exports of goods and services from regional Victoria", Parliament of Victoria, June 4, 2014.
- Adam Morton, "State brown coal export plan revealed", The Age, November 4, 2010.
- "Call to fast-track Hastings port", Hastings Leader, July 10, 2010.
- Clay Lucas, "Ten-year plan for Hastings port", The Age, January 8, 2011.
- David Rood, "Cost of Hastings container port put at $9.4bn", The Age, February 28, 2011.
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- Department of Transport (Victoria), Port of Hastings Development: Infrastructure Australia", October 2009. (This is Part 1 of the document - the file has been split into three to overcome file size upload limits).
- Department of Transport (Victoria), Port of Hastings Development: Infrastructure Australia", October 2009. (This is Part 2 of the document - the file has been split into three to overcome file size upload limits).
- Department of Transport (Victoria), Port of Hastings Development: Infrastructure Australia", October 2009. (This is Part 3 of the document - the file has been split into three to overcome file size upload limits).