BHP Billiton has formally withdrawn from being the preferred developer of Terminal 2 at the Port of Abbot Point as the company also confirms it has pulled out of building a rail line linking the port with Bowen Basin mines.
BHP had planned to build terminal two of the proposed Abbot Point expansion as well as a rail line in a project worth $5 billion.
The company hinted in 2012 that it planned to cease work on growth studies in Queensland, including rail and port work associated with the port expansion as well as scrapping a rail project from Goonyella to Abbot Point.
However a formal relinquishment of the right to develop T2 has now been agreed with North Queensland Bulk Ports and the company has withdrawn from related regulatory applications
While Adani and GVK Hancock still hold the development rights for Terminal 0 and Terminal 3 respectively, the announcement of withdrawal by BHP as preferred developer for T2 has cast doubt over the expansion of the port.
The project is still waiting on final Federal approval for its go ahead, with Environment Minister Greg Hunt last week pushing the decision back to December 13.
NQBP said it would continue to review how to “best cater for staged and timely incremental expansion of port and terminal capacity” incorporating the development of the T2 site.
“The advancement of the site is fundamental in catering for future incremental coal export growth at Abbot Point,” the company said.
In April 2012 BHP reaffirmed its commitment to the expansion at Abbot Point after Rio Tinto decided to pull out of the development.
However in October of the same year the company’s former head ruled out any new mining projects in the state.
"What is extraordinarily difficult is to open up brand new greenfield mines, ports, rail and so on,” Marius Kloppers said at the time.
It is understood the company expects it has sufficient latent port capacity to see it through until at least 2024.