GPC defends the future of coal
AMID THE RELEASE OF A LONG-TERM PLAN, GPC HAS ADDRESSED CONCERNS WITHIN THE COAL INDUSTRY
THE future of coal is bright according to the Gladstone Ports Corporation, which has unveiled the draft of a 2050 plan for its future development and growth.
Defending the longevity of coking and thermal coal, GPC chief executive Peter O’Sullivan said various reports showed the commodity would survive even with a “maximum uptake in renewable energy”.
Mr O’Sullivan’s address of coal industry concerns yesterday comes off the back of a resources expert pointing out the draft plan needed to consider a “worst case scenario”.
The Department of State Development’s draft plan focuses on three possible growth scenarios for Gladstone’s Port, which exported 116.7mt last year.
“They didn’t put in a scenario for negative growth that allows for the possibility of a major decline in the coal industry and other sectors of the economy,” CQUniversity’s economic professor John Rolfe said.
The first scenario estimates limited growth, limited dredging in the Gladstone Harbour, a weak coal price and maximum throughput of 151 million tonnes per annum.
The second scenario is dependent on development with the master planned area and a strong price growth for commodities, and would lead to 230 million tonnes of throughput per year.
Meanwhile the third, what Prof Rolfe says is the least likely, forecasts significant growth in the economy, coal exports and commodity prices.
Mr O’Sullivan said the plan, which covers growth from now until 2050, considered growth projections and forecasts within the industry.
“The International Energy Agency predicts that even with the maximum uptake in renewables, world demand for both coking and thermal coal will increase,” he said.
“Currently 70% of coal from RG Tanna Coal Terminal is coking coal and an increase in demand for steel in India and the large number of High Efficiency Low Emissions power stations planned for Asia means the long-term outlook for coal is still positive.
“Any downturn in coal or other product simply means a slower rate of development for the port as with a wonderful natural deep water harbour, the opportunities to attract other trades to the area over the next thirty (30) years are very positive.”
Gladstone Ports Corporations Port of Gladstone was identified by the Queensland Government as one of the four priority ports in the state.
The Gladstone Port draft master plan is the first released, which will be followed by Townsville, Hay and Abbot Point.
Mr O’Sullivan urged the community to take the time to review the document and provide feedback.
Adding, “the port drives the livelihood of the town”, Mr O’Sullivan said the long-term plan was a result of ongoing consultation between the Queensland Government, Gladstone Regional Council and GPC.
“The Port of Gladstone has a history spanning over 100 years, the draft master plan provides GPC, the Queensland Government and Gladstone Regional Council with the foundation to ensure the port’s existence well in to the future,” he said.
The Gladstone Ports Corporation’s 2015-16 annual report documented the struggles within the coal industry, admitting it was “the worst industry conditions for decades”.
The October 2016 report anticipated this year would be “equally as difficult” for the coal industry.
■ The draft of a master plan outlining the vision for Gladstone’s port to 2050 was released late last month.
■ The plan is the first of four being developed for Queensland’s priority ports, which also includes Townsville, Abbot Point and Hay Point.
■ Submissions on the draft master plan close on Monday October 9.
■ A final master plan and final master planned area will be released by mid-2018.
FUTURE PLAN: Gladstone Ports Corporation’s Auckland Point facility holds thousands of tonnes of calcite for shipping to Geelong, Victoria for final processing.