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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Rio Tinto reassigns coal haulage contracts

Sunday, 25 Dec 2011

It is reported that Rio Tinto has given Asciano a contract for coal haulage from one of its central Queensland mines that was previously split between Asciano and QR National but has allocated a new contract for extra tonnage from another mine to QR National.

Rio Tinto has been building up its Hail Creek mine inland from Mackay and in the past few years has used Asciano fully owned Pacific National to cart two million tonnes per annum while QR National has carted the remainder which has been up to 8mtpa.

But Asicano recently announced a 10 year contract under which it will cart 8mtpa of coal a year to Dalrymple Bay as well as 500,000 tonnes a year from a smaller mine, Kestrel. The contract will put Asciano closer to its goal of having 30% of the Queensland market and the company is building a new maintenance facility at Nebo inland from Mackay that is due to be operating from the middle of next year.

But while QR National lost that contract it gained a 10 year one from Rio Tinto to cart an extra 3 million tonnes per annum from the company Blair Athol/Clermont operations to Abbot Point from January 1 next year. While QR National is already carting coal from this mine to Dalrymple Bay, this new contract is for extra tonnage at the mine and it will go to Abbot Point via what was previously the missing link which was officially opened earlier this week.

This 69 kilometers piece of track links the Goonyella line running to Dalrymple Bay with the Newlands line running to Abbot Point and this sort of contract is exactly the sort of flexibility envisaged in the planning for the line. While QR National paid USD 1.1 billion for the below rail line on which the trains run it must also allow open access above rail and this contract is the second that QR National has won that uses the line, following a 10 year contract with Jellinbah Resources to haul up to 6 million tonnes per annum from its Lake Vermont mine to Abbot Point.


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