The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has reinstated interim authorisation to Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS), the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG) and the Newcastle Port Corporation (NPC), including for the port’s coal queue capacity management system.
Interim authorisation allows the parties to undertake the phased implementation of arrangements to provide a long term solution to continuing capacity constraints in the Hunter Valley coal chain.
After a three week delay, all parties recently executed their respective legal documents that set out the detailed framework for the long term export solution.
“There is still a program of work to be completed by the industry to allow the long term solution to be fully implemented across the coal chain by January 1 2010,” ACCC acting chairman Peter Kell said in a statement.
“In particular, the ACCC considers the resolution of remaining contractual alignment issues needs to be a priority for the industry.”
The ACCC originally granted interim authorisation to PWCS, NCIG and the NPC in July 2009 subject to a condition that the applicants execute their respective Capacity Framework Documents by August 31 — a deadline they had set.
The parties advised that one party failed to execute its documents by the deadline.
Accordingly, the ACCC revoked the previous interim authorisation.
Authorisation provides immunity from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974.
Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.