Logistics News

Palmer takes aim at QR National

Mining magnate Clive Palmer to sue QR National for $8 billion over who will build the proposed coal rail link to Abbot Point in Central Queensland

By Anna Game-Lopata | January 31, 2012

Mining magnate Clive Palmer
plans to sue QR National for $8 billion over who will build the proposed rail link between the Galilee Basin coal region and the Central Queensland coast.

The Queensland Government’s last week delared QR National’s Central Queensland Integrated Rail Project (CQIRP) a “significant project”.

The rail provider says the proposed multi-user railway would service the emerging needs of the Galilee coal basin by providing access to the ports of Central Queensland.

“This is a proposal that will optimise existing rail infrastructure and minimise construction of greenfield railway with its inherent cost and community impacts,” says QR National Executive Vice President Strategy & Business Development Ken Lewsey.

“By consolidating tonnages and working with several companies, QR National can deliver a commercially viable and operationally efficient rail infrastructure solution.”

But the decision has allegedly raised the ire of Clive Palmer, whose company China First is planning a competing 500 kilometre rail link.

According to media reports today, Palmer wants to sue QR National $8 billion in the Queensland Supreme Court, accusing the rail operator in a twitter feed of “breach of confidentiality and misleading conduct”.

While China First’s thermal coal mine and infrastructure project in the Galilee Basin has also been granted ‘significant project’ status by Queensland’s Coordinator-General, it is understood Palmer was expecting exclusive rights to the rail link to Abbot Point.

His legal action aims to stop relevant parties from dealing with QR National in respect of the Galilee Basin and its corridor and associated port facilities.

With three main coal developers in the region and two rail corridor proposals to Abbot Point being Palmer’s and QR National’s, China First is accusing the Queensland Government of favouring QR National as an election stunt.

“Our China First Project will create 6,000 jobs during construction and will generate an estimated $4.6 billion per annum in export revenues once operational,” China First spokeswoman Baljeet Singh says in a statement issued today.

“Now we have QR National, in conjunction with the Queensland government, claiming it can build the rail link and create hundreds of jobs in what looks like a bid to score some political mileage in the government’s bid for re-election.

“This is an outrage as we had already been in commercial discussions and exchanges with QR National for co-operation in the joint development of rail and port facilities supporting the Galilee Basin.”

Meanwhile QR National, of which the government still holds a
40 stake it intends to sell, has strongly rejected the claims, describing them as “baseless assertions” and refusing to comment on the matter further.

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