Aurizon expands its presence in NSW with new Whitehaven contract
Aurizon has continued to grow its presence in the New South Wales coal haulage market with the announcement of a new long-term contract with Whitehaven Coal Limited.
The new 12 year agreement will see Aurizon expand into the Gunnedah Basin from 1 July 2014, hauling up to 16 million tonnes per annum of coal to the Port of Newcastle from four load sites, including the new Maules Creek project, which is in the final stages of its approval process.
Aurizon Managing Director and CEO, Lance Hockridge said Aurizon’s entry into the Gunnedah Basin was a win for customers, adding competition and increased performance pressure to a market which previously had only one operator.
“Aurizon is delighted to form this relationship with Whitehaven Coal, and we are absolutely committed to delivering superior customer service with a strong focus on performance, reliability and safety,” he said. “In both New South Wales and Queensland, we’ve proven we can expand capacity to match our customers’ growing operations. We intend to leverage our experience and performance in the Hunter Valley supply chain to maximise coal throughput for Whitehaven.”
Aurizon will make a capital investment of up to $280m in addition to the planned $110m train maintenance and provisioning facility at Hexham, which will support the new fleet.
Executive Vice President Commercial and Marketing Paul Scurrah said “This significant investment highlights our commitment to the New South Wales coal region, where we see continuing and significant growth opportunities for the company and our customers.”
Aurizon will work closely with Whitehaven and Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) to expand the capacity of the network infrastructure in the Gunnedah Basin through heavier track axle load capability.
The contract includes the haulage of coal from the rail loading facilities at Maules Creek, Narrabri, Gunnedah, and Werris Creek. Whitehaven Coal announced last week financial completion of its A$1.2 billion Senior Secured Bank Facility, providing the certainty and flexibility required to develop the Maules Creek project.
Maules Creek is located in the heart of the Gunnedah Basin and is one of the largest coal deposits in Australia with 362mt of recoverable reserves. Subject to the timely delivery of all necessary approvals, it is expected that first coal production will commence at Maules Creek in 2014, with forecast saleable tonnes exceeding 10mtpa at full production.