PERTH (miningweekly.com) - The Queensland government on Wednesday announced the development of two new rail corridors to service the state’s coal mines in the Galilee and Bowen basins.
An east-west corridor would see the extension of the existing QR National (QRN) network from near Moranbah to the central Galilee basin and would provide links to the coal ports of Abbot Point, Dalrymple Bay and Dudgeon Point.
A north-south rail corridor would be defined along the proposed GVK-Hancock Coal alignment to facilitate the construction of new standard gauge rail lines to link the proposed large-scale, vertically integrated mining operations in the southern Galilee basin to Abbot Point.
Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney said the government’s decision for two corridors was a common-sense and coordinated approach that would replace eight different railway proposals originating under the previous Anna Bligh government.
“This outcome is a win for the mine proponents, local communities, landholders and the environment,” Seeney said.
He told the state Parliament that the two corridors were the only areas in which the state government was likely to use its powers to compulsorily acquire land for new rail lines.
“After exhaustive negotiations with all the mine proponents, I believe that the responsible development of the Galilee basin can be achieved by defining an east-west extension of the QRN network and a north-south corridor to facilitate a new standard gauge line,” Seeney said.
“The government will work towards declaring state development areas to define these two preferred corridors within which the government’s powers of compulsory land acquisition can be exercised to bring about our clearly stated policy outcomes of a coordinated approach to railway development.”
He noted that the east-west extension was currently being developed by QRN and Adani and provided the best option for a staged development of mine, rail and port capacity for the Galilee basin in the short term.
“A major increase in tonnages can be carried on this extension and the existing network. The government will also support an expansion of capacity on the existing QRN alignment north to Abbot Point.”
Seeney noted that the corridor would be the preferred transport corridor for proposed developments and expansions in the northern Bowen basin and would provide a long-awaited deviation around Collinsville.
The government would also support the development of coal-line standard for the existing rail line from Alpha to Emerald.
For the large, vertically integrated mines proposed for the southern Galilee area, the state government would define a corridor that straddles the alignment proposed by GVK-Hancock Coal for a new 500 km standard gauge line north to Abbot Point.
“The government will ensure third-party access to each of these corridors and no proponent will be disadvantaged. There will be the option for other large mining proposals to co-locate their own new railway lines within the north-south corridor should they consider that to be more commercially viable,” said Seeney.
The announcement of the two new corridors has been welcomed by the Queensland Resources Council, with CEO Michael Roche saying the flexible approach would address community concerns about multiple railway lines criss-crossing the country, while providing workable solutions for companies planning to develop new coal resources in the basins.
“The new rail capacity will facilitate the development of new coal resources that will be worth potentially billions of dollars to Queensland, creating new jobs and stimulus to the wider economy.”