Coal giants at Odds Over Expansion Plans
AUSTRALIA – THE NSW government is to meet early next week to consider a proposal lodged by coal entrepreneur Nathan Tinkler to build a privately owned coal loader at Newcastle.
Mr Tinkler’s Hunter Ports is seeking approval to build a 100-million-tonne privately owned facility, costing around $2.5 billion, which puts it at odds with a rival expansion plan of Port Waratah Coal Services for a further export terminal, also of up to 100 million tonnes.
Two projects are intended to lift the coal export capacity to 205 million tonnes a year, ahead of the plans for the further 100-million-tonne expansion from around 2015.
By then, Port Waratah will have 145 million tonnes of capacity and the other industry-owned operator, Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group, 60 million tonnes.
The Tinkler loader would be located on part of the site of the former BHP Steelworks, which has lain idle since it closed its Newcastle works more than a decade ago.
His proposal also puts him at odds with the Newcastle Ports Corporation, which has a detailed proposal before the NSW Department of Planning for new port facilities on the site.
”We’re open to working with Newcastle Ports Corporation, with its master plan,” the Hunter Ports head, Steve van Barneveld, said, since the Tinkler proposal would use as much as two-thirds of the BHP site.
When Port Waratah was finalising its fourth-phase expansion, it was informed the former BHP site was not available.
”We have the contracts in place,” the acting chief executive of Port Waratah Coal Services, Shaun Sears, said of the expansion plan. ”We have purchased or leased the land … and lodged our environmental assessment, and once the approval is in … we will commence construction.”
Port Waratah plans to begin construction next year, with first shipment planned for 2015. Its expansion will cost an estimated $4 billion, and will need extensive dredging and environmental remediation.
The NSW government has convened a committee of senior bureaucrats along with representatives of Newcastle Port Corp and Infrastructure NSW ”to consider the proposal and report back to the proponents”, a spokesman for the Ports Minister, Duncan Gay, said.
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