Rural Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee
Estimates hearings, 18 October 2011
Australian Rail Track Corporation
- Mr John Fullerton, Chief Executive Officer
CHAIR: I now call the Australian Rail Track Corporation. Welcome, Mr Fullerton.
Senator RHIANNON: Documents released through the New South Wales upper house as a result of a motion by the Greens detailed monthly meetings between China Shenhua and ARTC about plans to move coal from the Liverpool Plains. What do these meetings cover? How frequently do they occur, and when did they commence?
Mr Fullerton: All the meetings that the ARTC have with all the miners in the Hunter Valley are really commercial meetings to discuss their mining requirements and the capacity they need to deliver through the Port of Newcastle.
Senator RHIANNON: When did these meetings commence, and do you have separate meetings with China Shenhua?
Mr Fullerton: We meet with all the producers in the Hunter Valley on a regular basis to look at future nominations and capacity. I am really not able to go into all the details that they are seeking in terms of volumes that they wish to transport through the port, given that there are 14 miners in the Hunter Valley. There are contracts in place to move coal volumes through the supply chain. There are obviously expanding works that are going on in the Hunter Valley in relation to increasing capacity, and that is a process that we are going through with all the miners. I can say that the volumes that are forecast for the Hunter Valley from 2015 will trigger a T4 terminal to handle those increases in volumes.
Senator RHIANNON: Can I assume from that that you do have meetings with China Shenhua on its own?
Mr Fullerton: We have regular meetings with all the coal producers and potential coal producers in the Hunter Valley.
Senator RHIANNON: Have those meetings also covered the issues of transporting coal to Port Kembla?
Mr Fullerton: We are not aware of any coal producers in the Hunter Valley that transport coal to Port Kembla other than Bluescope, which moves small amounts of coal.
Senator RHIANNON: My question was not about the do but about the possibility of transporting coal through Port Kembla. Is ARTC having meetings with China Shenhua about that possibility?
Mr Fullerton: We are not having any meetings with any coal producers to move coal through Port Kembla.
Senator RHIANNON: When China Shenhua missed out on the August 2010 coal nomination deadline for an allocation to export coal through Newcastle coal loader, did you have discussions with them about helping them solve the problem they then faced?
Mr Fullerton: I cannot comment on the detail of those discussions in relation to contracted volumes through the Hunter Valley. You need to appreciate—
Senator RHIANNON: My question was not about volumes. I have not asked at all about volumes, it is purely about the meetings. Could you inform the committee if those meetings occurred?
Mr Fullerton: We are having confidential meetings with all coal producers in the Hunter Valley. I am not at liberty to give details of specific meetings with various coal producers.
Senator RHIANNON: But I was not asking for the details of what happened but if the meeting occurred. Why would that be commercial-in-confidence?
Mr Fullerton: Because it is capacity and allocations of coal capacity through the Hunter Valley supply chain where you have 14 various mines competing for the capacity, I am not at liberty to relay who we are meeting with and the content of those discussions.
Senator RHIANNON: Has China Shenhua made any payment to your department?
Mr Fullerton: I cannot really comment on any of the details in relation to discussions with those coal producers.
Senator RHIANNON: It was not about discussions at all; that question was, has China Shenhua made any payment to your department?
Mr Fullerton: ARTC has contracts with producers in the Hunter Valley and it is under the terms of those contracts that we receive payment for volumes that are hauled through the Hunter Valley.
Senator RHIANNON: Again, how you have answered the question is talking about current coal producers. As you would be aware, China Shenhua has not actually been given approval for its mine. Have you had meetings with companies that would like to open up a coalmine in New South Wales?
Mr Fullerton: We have many meetings with many potential coal producers in the Hunter Valley, those that are developing mines and those that have operational mines, about future capacity. It is not just in relation to rail capacity. Obviously the capacity of the supply chain has got as much to do with terminal capacity at the port.
Senator RHIANNON: Are you aware if China Shenhua is pursuing the private construction to the north-west of the Port Waratah coal services Carrington coal loader on land owned by Newcastle Port Corporation that is leased to Buildev?
Mr Fullerton: I am not aware of that particular point. I am aware that a number of mines are developing future plans for capacity in the Hunter Valley.
Senator RHIANNON: You said that you could inform the committee that the fourth coal loader will occur. Where is it up to and what is the timeline for its progress, please?
Mr Fullerton: What I can say is that the T4 terminal has been triggered. It was triggered once future forecast volumes exceeded 200 million tonnes per annum. That has now been triggered. That is now a project that is being developed by the terminal organisations in the Hunter Valley.
Senator RHIANNON: When China Shenhua failed to get its nomination in for the port nomination in 2010, did you have discussions with them to facilitate the challenges that they then faced moving their coal?
Mr Fullerton: I cannot comment on discussions with any of the coal producers in the Hunter Valley.