North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP) has awarded the preferred developer status to BHP Billiton and Hancock Coal for two major expansions at the Port of Abbot Point. The new coal terminals will be single user terminals providing BHP Billiton with the capacity to export 30Mtpa and Hancock Coal the capacity to export 30Mtpa.

Leonie Taylor, chairman of the board at North Queensland Bulk Ports, said: “We are pleased to announce that the Queensland Government has endorsed proposals from BHP Billiton and Hancock Coal to build two new coal terminals at Abbot Point to export an estimated 110 million tonnes of coal per annum.”

She added, “Both BHP Billiton and Hancock Coal have expressed interest in working with NQBP in optimising the area to increase capacity from 30Mtpa to 50Mtpa for BHP Billiton and from 30Mtpa to 60Mtpa for Hancock Coal. This of course, would be subject to investigations and approvals.”

The Port of Abbot Point is situated next to the state development area and is a strategic port positioned to respond to industry demand, she said.

The two new terminals will be located adjacent to the existing government-owned Abbot Point Coal Terminal, which is currently undergoing upgrades to increase capacity to 50Mtpa.

The government intends to offer a 99-year lease over this existing Abbot Point Coal Terminal with the sale process to commence in late 2010. NQBP will now negotiate detailed framework agreements, which will underpin the planning and development of the terminals.

The proposed BHP coal terminal will be fed by Queensland Rail’s Newlands coal rail system. The Hancock Coal proposal is a comprehensive mine to port proposal, which includes a purpose-built rail line from the Galilee Coal Basin to its coal terminal at the Port of Abbot Point.