Newcastle’s third coal loader start signed and sealed
NEWCASTLE Coal Infrastructure Group, selected to build a third coal export terminal at the Australian port, says it has financing for the project — allowing construction to start immediately.
The group, led by BHP Billiton, has signed a 35-year lease for the site from the NSW state Government, it said in a statement lodged with the Australian Stock Exchange by Centennial Coal, a venture partner. The financing covers the expected cost of $1 billion plus contingencies, it said.
The group in mid-2005 won the tender to build a third terminal at the world’s biggest coal-export harbor, beating a bid by Port Waratah Coal Services, owner of the existing two terminals. Bottlenecks at Newcastle boosted the number of ships waiting to load at the port last year and helped drive up prices.
‘‘ Today’s announcement helps the entire coal industry and reinforces our commitment to long-term infrastructure investment in the region,’’ NSW Treasurer Michael Costa said in the statement.
BHP Billiton Finance provided senior debt and secured notes in the funding package, Newcastle Coal Infrastructure said. Seven banks provided financing: Australia & New Zealand Banking Group, DZ Bank AG Deutsche Zentral-Genossenschaftsbank, Dexia Groupe, KBC Finance Ireland, Overseas-Chinese Banking, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking and Suncorp-Metway. ANZ Bank advised the group on the financing.
Construction of the terminal on Kooragang Island will initially increase the capacity of the Hunter Valley coal export system, expected at about 95 million tonnes this year, by about 30 million tonnes starting in 2010.
Equipment including two stackerreclaimers, used to move coal at the terminal, and a ship-loader have been ordered from Sandvik AB, Felix Resources, which has a stake in the project, has said in a separate statement to the exchange.
BHP, which owns 35.5 per cent of the project, said it approved spending of $390 million on the terminal. Peabody Energy, Donaldson Coal Pty and Whitehaven Coal Mining also own stakes in the project, as well as Centennial and Felix. Bloomberg