This expansion project will increase total capacity at the coal terminal from 53 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to 66mtpa.

BHP Billiton said the first coal on the new ship loader is scheduled for the 2014 financial year, with the terminal expected to operate at full capacity within the following 12 months.

The expansion will increase BHP Billiton’s allocation at the NCIG facility by a further 4.6mtpa to 19.2mtpa.

Hunter Valley Energy Coal, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BHP Billiton, is a 35.5% shareholder in the holding company of NCIG.