'Incremental' growth for coal port

Abbot Point
Abbot Point

AFTER dumping the $9 billion expansion of the Abbot Point coal port north of Mackay, the State Government now will send a consultant to mining companies to ask them what they want.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney, who scrapped the planned expansion in May, said Dr Barry Golding - an academic and mine industry expert - would work with North Queensland Bulk Ports to test the market's desire for a larger terminal.

Mr Seeney told Parliament on Thursday that Mr Golding would travel alongside NQBP representatives and government staffers to ascertain the needs of coal companies.

Mr Seeney backed an "incremental expansion" of Abbot Point, rather than the all-at-once plan previously on the table.

"We want to see port capacity built up incrementally in a scaled way to meet the actual demand of miners," Mr Seeney said.

Mr Golding will report back to the government later in the year on the prospects of the port.

Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche said the appointment of Dr Golding was needed to further develop the port.

"While clearly the now-scrapped multi-cargo facility at Abbot Point was struggling to attract a critical mass of support, there remains strong industry interest in new incremental export capacity at Abbot Point from QRC's members," he said.

The multi-billion-dollar plans for Abbot Point, which involved interest from a laundry list of mining giants including Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Vale and Clive Palmer's Waratah Coal, was expected to create "tens of thousands of jobs" when it was trumpeted by former Premier Anna Bligh in late 2011.

The expansion of one terminal plus two new terminals owned by Adani, Hancock Coal and BHP Billiton respectively are still going ahead.

The other six were put on the backburner with Mr Seeney describing them as "unrealistic and undeliverable".

Topics:  abbot point coal industry jeff seeney michael roche queensland resources council

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