The second stage of construction at the third coal export terminal in the Port of Newcastle is due to begin immediately, after the financing was completed.
The new terminal opened on 3 May this year and currently has an export capacity of 30 million tonnes per annum.
The Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG) said this second phase would increase the terminal capacity up to 53 million tonnes per annum and the total capacity at Newcastle to 180 million tonnes per annum by 2013.
According to NCIG chairman Michael Egan, the $900 million finance package for the project was obtained through several Australian and international institutions.
“The Board has given the immediate go-ahead for the construction of the second stage of the terminal to meet the export demands for coal from mines already in production, or about to start,” he said.
The second stage will include the construction of a new rail unloading facility and rail sidings, an additional stacker/reclaimer unit and stockyards, additional conveyors and sample stations and an additional ship-loader.
The work is expected to employ up to 600 construction workers over the next two years.
According to Egan, for every person working on the construction site, another two are working in engineering, electrical and mechanical workshops, fabricating elements of the terminal.
“I have no doubt one of the reasons this region weathered the effects of the global financial crisis so well is because of this massive infrastructure effort and that flow-on effect is set to continue for the next two to three years,” he said.
The NCIG is made up of BHP Billiton (through Hunter Valley Energy Coal), Peabody Energy, Centennial Coal, Donaldson Coal, Yancoal and Whitehaven Coal.