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Abbot Point in Talks to Enlarge A$6.2 Billion Port Expansion

Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) -- North Queensland Bulk Port Corp., managing the A$6.2 billion ($6 billion) expansion of the Abbot Point coal port in Australia, is in talks to add two more terminals to meet demand from developers of new mines.

The additional two loaders would take the total number of terminals at the port to nine from one currently, Mary Steele, corporate relations manager for the port authority, said in a phone interview. The port, which aims to select developers by the end of the year, is discussing the increase with the coal industry and the Queensland state government, Steele said.

Abbot Point, located 25 kilometers (16 miles) north of the town of Bowen, has been named as the potential loading point for companies planning about $32 billion of coal projects in Australia’s Galilee Basin. Vale SA, GVK Power & Infrastructure Ltd. and Adani Enterprises Ltd., India’s biggest coal importer, are among companies looking to develop mines there to meet rising demand for the fuel in Asia.

“There’s so much potential and industry demand in that space that we were looking at engineering solutions,” said Steele. “What the project team has done is marry up the demand and looking at new engineering solutions and they could squeeze two more on-shore terminal spaces.”

Export Terminals

Australia’s coal export terminals are struggling to meet demand from Asia with ships queuing offshore New South Wales state waiting to load. Port Waratah Coal Services Ltd., which operates two export terminals in Newcastle, the world’s biggest for thermal coal, today said it has asked all 14 producers that use the port to cut shipments by a combined 750,000 metric tons until the end of this year to reduce congestion.

The existing terminal at Abbot Point is being expanded to 50 million metric tons capacity from 21 million tons, according to its website. BHP Billiton Ltd., Hancock Prospecting Pty and GVK have been selected to develop two more terminals with a nominal capacity of 30 million tons each.

Construction of the terminals four to seven could start in 2015 at a cost of A$6.2 billion, according to statement from state Premier Anna Bligh on the government website. Queensland government may decide on allowing planning for terminals eight and nine next week, Steele said.

“We would like to give industry an answer next week so they can get their planning and their investment in order for us to reach agreement by the end of March,” said Steele.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elisabeth Behrmann in Sydney at ebehrmann1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rebecca Keenan at rkeenan5@bloomberg.net

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