Dumping of Balaclava Island port casts doubt over Wandoan

Coal port protesters will welcome the Glencore-Xstrata decision.
Coal port protesters will welcome the Glencore-Xstrata decision. Trish Bowman

UPDATE 9am Tuesday: Capricorn Conservation Council co-ordinator Michael McCabe says the group is delighted the proposed coal port "involving massive dredging and large ships in Keppel Bay" had been scrapped.

"The BICET rail spur and coal stockpile would have dissected the habitat of the critically endangered yellow chat," he said on Monday.

"The six million tonnes of dredging and subsequent shipping threatened the preferred habitat of our unique snubfin dolphin.

"The Fitzroy Delta also provides critical fish habitat and a refuge for migratory birds."


UPDATE 4.40pm Monday: THE newly-merged Glencore-Xstrata has been forced to again deny it would dump its $7 billion Wandoan coal mine planned for south-west Queensland after killing off its $1 billion port slated for near Gladstone.

The Balaclava Island port was to create 800 jobs during construction with a further 100 needed once it began operating.

Despite cancelling its Balaclava Island port project - a decision understood to have been made before Xstrata's merger with Glencore - the mining giant has denied it meant anything for the slated coal mine, which is currently the subject of a Land Court battle.

Balaclava Island was to become an export point for the Wandoan's coal, after it outgrew the capacity it needed from Gladstone's Wiggins Island coal terminal.

A spokesman for Glencore-Xstrata said the future of Wandoan still relied on the outcome for a Land Court battle over landowner compensation and a final investment decision.

He said that decision would take into account market conditions at the time.

It is those world market conditions that do not currently sit on the side of the Wandoan project, with Glencore-Xstrata's statement on Balaclava saying as much in its announcement on Monday.

It described its ditching of the port to be "a result of the poor current market conditions in the Australian coal industry".

The verdict will also rely not just on those who have developed the project within Xstrata.

Glencore executives will likely form a formiddable part of the investment committee looking at Wandoan's future and the 2140 jobs it would create in the region.


Xstrata stops work on proposed Balaclava Island coal port

GLENCORE-Xstrata has decided to cease work on its planned coal port at Balaclava Island, south of Rockhampton, after a review of the project.

In a press release issued this afternoon, the newly merged company said poor market conditions in the coal industry were a key factor in the decision.

"Over the past few years, Xstrata Coal has been studying a potential new coal export terminal development at Balaclava Island, approximately 40km north of Gladstone,'' a company spokesman said.

"Following completion of the merger with Glencore and a review of the project, Glencore Xstrata has decided to cease its work on BICET, effective immediately.

"This decision has been made as a result of the poor current market conditions in the Australian coal industry, excess port capacity in Queensland, specific shipping limitations and concerns about the industry's medium-term outlook.

"In the long-term, we believe Australia will need to increase its coal export capacity in an efficient and internationally competitive manner, in response to increased demand for coal in Asia.

"As such, we believe the Queensland State Government will need to ensure its long-term ports strategy provides for the growth of coal export capacity that is essential to the Australian economy and the maintenance and improvements of people's living standards overseas.

We believe this can be achieved in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner."

Topics:  balaclava island business employment mining wandoan xstrata

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