The Queensland resources industry has warned next month’s State Budget could face a AUS$2 billion hole due to monopoly rail operator Aurizon cutting the number of trains moving coal to export ports.
Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said coal companies were being advised by Aurizon this week that it would dramatically cut train movements on the Goonyella system of the Central Queensland Coal Network. The Goonyella system connects many of Queensland’s largest metallurgical coal suppliers to the port of Hay Point.
“Based on these developments, QRC believes it is now clear Aurizon is determined to stop the movement of 20 million t of coal,” Macfarlane said.
“What does that mean for Queensland? It is nothing short of economic vandalism. It will cut AUS$4 billion from Queensland exports and AUS$500 million in annual royalties paid by the industry to the Queensland Government. Over the forward estimates (over the next four financial years), the reduction in royalties paid to the Queensland Government could be as much as AUS$2 billion.
“It will mean the Palaszczuk Government will have AUS$2 billion less to spend on services and infrastructure for Queenslanders, all because of the actions of one company. This will directly impact on the State Budget next month. What does it mean for Queenslanders? The Government will have AUS$400 less to spend on every Queensland man, woman and child.”
“This is not the State Government’s fault. This is not the industry’s fault. This is the sheer arrogance of Aurizon. This is an Aurizon rail fail, and the people of Queensland will be punished.”
Macfarlane said the QRC repeated its call for Aurizon to resume its normal maintenance programme and stop the damage to the coal industry and the Queensland economy, until the Queensland Competition Authority had made its final determination and the Supreme Court action – initiated by Aurizon against the QCA – had been finalised.
“Aurizon are the monopoly operator and through sheer arrogance they are cutting trains moving coal to ports for exports. This cuts our export revenue and it cuts the royalties paid to the Queensland Government to pay for government services and infrastructure for all Queenslanders,” he said.
In February, Aurizon announced it would change its maintenance programme and that conceded this would impact on the movement of up to 20 million tpy of coal each.
Aurizon’s announcement followed the draft decision of the independent Queensland Competition Authority for the operation of the Central Queensland Coal Network. The final decision is due by QCA at the end of the year.
Instead of waiting for the QCA’s final decision, Aurizon decided to cut train movements for coal. The Blackwater system, which connects mines such as Rolleston and Minerva to Gladstone, including part of the North Coast Line between Parana and Rocklands, has already been severely impacted.
QCA has initiated its own inquiry into Aurizon’s rail maintenance actions. Submissions to QCA closed on 20 April and QCA is considering those submissions.
Aurizon has sought a judicial review of the draft QCA decision by application to the Supreme Court.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/handling/15052018/queensland-state-budget-to-face-aus2-billion-dent-following-aurizons-train-cuts/