The world’s biggest coal port in Newcastle, Australia, is about to get bigger. State approval has come through for an AUD5.0 billion (USD3.6 billion) additional coal loader for Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS).
The state Planning Department and Planning Assessment Commission gave the new 70-million-tonne capacity T4 terminal the nod subject to comprehensive conditions last week. This is despite some community opposition. However, final approval must first come from the federal government and that is not expected until the end of the year, or more likely early 2016.
PWCS will then have a five-year window to commence construction.
“We look like shipping about another 110 million tonnes this year,” PWCS spokesperson Paul Chamberlain told IHS Maritime on 9 October. “And our current capacity is 140 million tonne. So with the price low and some spare capacity, we may as well wait as we have the five-year window.”
Shipments out of Newcastle dipped to 20-30/week in recent months, but made a comeback this week with 42 coal ships in port for the first time this year, according to the port weekly operations reports.
Approval for the new terminal has been criticised by environmental groups, with Newcastle’s own local government recently divesting in fossil fuel investments. However, supporters of the project are saying it will bring jobs and economic benefits.
The decision comes as the federal government on 8 October signalled it would not be funding any port and rail infrastructure project for Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine and port expansion in northern Queensland.