Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

{Massive Coal with $1Billion} {Port Forges Ahead Export Expansion}

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

{Massive Coal with $1Billion} {Port Forges Ahead Export Expansion}

Article excerpt

IT was possibly the longest train I had ever seen.

Chugging along slowly on a bridge just north of Bowen, the coal train seemed to stretch for miles and miles.

As we drove underneath the bridge, I realised that my trip to the Abbot Point Coal Terminal was going to be pretty special.

The port is a major construction site and a security regulated facility, so photographer Peter Holt and I were pretty lucky to get not only a look-in but a fully-escorted tour.

Safety is a must, so despite the heat we donned pants, long shirts and closed-in shoes. And as we signed in we were handed fluoro vests and hard hats to match.

I was looking pretty cool when North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) corporate relations manager Mary Steele filled me in on the day's itinerary.

And when NQBP chief executive officer Brad Fish and project manager Greg Mallin pulled up in a four-wheel drive, I didn't hesitate in jumping into the air-conditioned vehicle.

As Mr Mallin began to drive the packed car to the jetty, I looked out the window and couldn't help but notice how much the port looked like an amusement park. The conveyer belts, which seemed to go on forever, resembled a rollercoaster and the tippers on the stacker reclaimers looked a little like a Ferris wheel.

But there is nothing amusing about the terminal - after all, this is big business.

For instance, one stacker reclaimer is worth between $35 million and $40 million.

And the three upgrade projects happening at the 400-hectare site total a massive $1 billion.

Then there are the royalties the Queensland Government receives for coal that leaves the terminal, which is about $10 a tonne. With most ships' capacity around 100,000 tonnes, the State Government reaps a cool $1 million for each that leaves the harbour.

Speaking of the harbour, it was a decent drive up to the wharf to get a good look at it. The jetty is 2.8km long and it's one-way traffic all the way.

There are four ships lined up waiting and I'm told it can take anywhere between two and five days to fill one with coal.

The coal ships leave through Palm Passage and most then head north to Asia. …

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