Qld coal exports to boom on back of $1bn deal

Moves to 'revolutionise' Queensland's coal sector takes step closer after announcement of $1.1 billion rail project

October 23, 2009

Moves to ‘revolutionise’ Queensland’s coal sector have taken a step closer after the state’s government reached a deal on a $1.1 billion rail project.

Queensland Rail (QR) has finalised an agreement with coal company customers Lake Vermomt and Bowen Central Coal for the Goonyella to Abbot Point project.

The project includes the 69-kilometre Northern Missing Link, which connects the Goonyella coal rail system to the Newlands rail system, as well as upgrades to the Newlands system.

The project is expected to increase rail capacity and allow mines from the Newlands and Goonyella rail systems to export 50 million tonnes of coal each year through Abbot Point.

Premier Anna Bligh says the project will also deliver new export opportunities in the region and will support an $845 million expansion of the Abbot Point Coal terminal.

"This project is the Suez Canal of the central Queensland coal industry - it will revolutionise coal transport in our state," Bligh says.

Work is expected to being in April next and year and the project is expected to be completed in January 2012.

Ms Bligh said pending the outcome of the final planning, the first work on site was expected on site near Moranbah to commence work by April 2010.

QR Chief Executive Lance Hockridge says the project is necessary to meet the forecast in demand for coal once the global economy recovers.

QR plans beginning work immediately on the Northern Missing Link once final planning has finished and will upgrade the Newlands system progressively depending on customer requirements.

"This key project will support thousands of jobs in the mining and construction industry and be a key driver for economic growth in regional Queensland," Hockridge says.

He says the government-run rail operator is working with its customers to plan and build transport infrastructure capable of supporting growth in demand for coal.

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