Consultants called in for Abbot Point expansion

The Queensland Government has called in consultants to work with mining companies to create a plan after the downsizing of the port's expansion.

Although plans were initially afoot to make Abbot Point one of the world's largest coal ports, government intervention, sagging coal prices, and environmental action has created a number of stumbling blocks for the port, which eventually saw one of the major stakeholders, Rio Tinto, pull out of its development.

"Rio Tinto withdrew from the current process for the potential development of additional port capacity at Abbot Point, due to changes in the economic environment and the commitments required to progress the option," a Rio Tinto spokesperson said at the time.

"Global economic markets have shifted to a period of significant uncertainty and we continue to see both a sustained upward pressure on costs and long timeframes for regulatory approvals."

However the miner did not rule out future participation.

"Rio Tinto would welcome the opportunity to participate in further discussions should key elements of the Abbot Point proposal be revised in the future, such as the development model and scope of commitment required. Rio Tinto's focus at present is evaluating potential alternatives to Abbot Point for additional port capacity."

Now the QLD government is attempting to work with miners to get the expansion back on track.

Deputy premier Jeff Seeney says that a consultant will help to work with miners and to test the market for the need for a larger terminal, according to the Daily Mercury.

Seeney is backing an "incremental expansion" rather than a massive full blown development.

"We want to see port capacity built up incrementally in a scaled way to meet the actual demand of miners," Seeney said.

The move was welcomed by Queensland Resources Council CEO Michael Roche. "While clearly the now-scrapped multi-cargo facility at Abbot Point was struggling to attract a critical mass of support, there remains strong industry interest in new incremental export capacity at Abbot Point from QRC's members," he said.

As the scaling back of Abbot Point continues other nearby ports, such as the Yarwun Coal Terminal Project, have been declared significant.


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