Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said following a call for Expressions of Interest by North Queensland Bulk Ports Corp. (NQBP) in mid-2011 for the development of additional coal terminals at the Port of Abbot, there was significant industry interest shown.

The Preferred Respondents include: Anglo American Metallurgical Coal, Macmines Austasia, North Queensland Coal Terminal (consortium of Macarthur Coal, Peabody Energy, New Hope Corporation, Middlemount Coal and Carabella Resources), Rio Tinto Coal, Vale and Waratah Coal. These companies will now progress to the next stage of contract negotiations for coal terminals at the port, Bligh said.

Bligh said NQBP is working closely with the mining industry and key stakeholders to plan for the future and the necessary port requirements for 2017 and beyond. “This current expansion proposal for Terminals 4 to 9—known as the T4-9 Project—will provide six additional stockpile terminals at the Port of Abbot Point.” Cost for T4-9 are estimated to be as much as $9 billion.

“This is an important step toward increased private sector investment in new coal export infrastructure in Queensland,” Bligh said. “The government is putting in place the building blocks to allow private sector proponents to progress their mine, rail and port development proposals.”

This announcement is limited to the right of the Preferred Respondents to negotiate with NQBP and does not confer development rights. Detailedcommercial agreements are expected to be negotiated with the Preferred Respondents bymid-2012. If the parties reach agreement, the respondents will begin discussions with NQBP about the detailed planning and environmental requirements for the terminals and access to a proposed Multi-Cargo Facility (MCF). The MCF is necessary to provide sheltered harbor capable of accommodating up to 12 Capesize berths to facilitate exports from the port.

The T4-9 Project, together with the planned MCF and other expansions at Abbot Point will enable the growth of coal exports from the port’s existing capacity of 50 million mtpy up to an estimated 385 million mtpy.