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Aurizon to put its cards on the table

Published by , Editor
World Coal,

Aurizon has just two days left to make a business case for rail maintenance before the independent regulator, the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA), considers its decision.

“Aurizon needs to put their cards on the table, so the regulatory process can conclude, that’s far more constructive than continuing to block coal exports as Aurizon has done and been threatening to the market to do,” Queensland Resources Council (QRC) Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said.

“The industry is urging Aurizon to make the most of this opportunity. What we’d ask is for Aurizon to get back to work. No more threats, no more media campaigns, no more double-speak from their lawyers,” he said.

The QCA said in its discussion paper on maintenance that it: “Did not prescribe that Aurizon Network change its maintenance programme nor the operations of its maintenance practices. The QCA did not advocate giving priority to maintenance activities rather than train services.”

“Aurizon should immediately return to normal maintenance practices and, as a monopoly infrastructure provider, make its case to the regulator and the industry,” Macfarlane said.

The QCA’s preliminary position was for Aurizon’s rail maintenance budget to be increased by AUS$73 million over four years, pending Aurizon itself providing the QCA with more information to support its position.

“It’s now time for Aurizon to put up the information and give up on its damaging threats to hinder movement of millions of tonnes of coal to export ports,” stated Macfarlane.

He said that 20 June was the deadline for Aurizon to make a submission to the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) on its rail maintenance budget for the Central Queensland Coal Network.

“On behalf of the coal industry, the Queensland Resources Council had promised to support the Queensland Competition Authority’s decision on the Aurizon rail maintenance budget. If the QCA, as the independent umpire, finds Aurizon should be paid more, the industry will pay more.

“Aurizon refuses an unconditional return to its normal maintenance regime. It refuses to guarantee industry – and all Queenslanders – that it will no longer hinder access of coal being transported to export ports.

“As the Premier has said, Aurizon needs to work with the QCA. Aurizon’s continued attempts to sideline and undermine the QCA are counterproductive. Aurizon’s continued threats to industry for long-term disruption of coal exports will cost Queenslanders.”

The QRC estimates the cost of Aurizon’s plan to stop the movement of up to 20 million tpy under its new maintenance regime would costs up to a AUS$4 billion/y in lost Queensland export revenue and up to a AUS$500 million cut in royalties paid to the Palaszczuk Government to reinvest in services and infrastructure for all Queenslanders.

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