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Australia’s Aurizon in preliminary talks to acquire coal export terminal in Queensland

Australian coal rail operator Aurizon has confirmed it is in preliminary discussions with undisclosed parties for potential acquisition and restructuring of the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal (WICET) in Queensland.

The export terminal, which is owned by a consortium of coal producers Aquila Resources, Glencore, New Hope Group, Wesfarmers Curragh and Yancoal, is equipped to export 27 million tons of coal annually, including about 16 million tons under long-term agreements.

Meanwhile, The Australian Financial Review reported that Aurizon and Macquarie Group have made bid worth $4bn to purchase the port.

Aurizon, however, said it would potentially acquire WICET while other consortium members will purchase one or more of WICET’s source mines.

Reuters quoted a person familiar with the matter as saying that the potential deal could include Macquarie acquiring Rolleston mine from Glencore as well as Curragh mine from Wesfarmers. The two mines use the WICET.

The Australian coal rail operator noted that it also plans to secure long-term volume commitments for the WICET.

Aurizon said: “In addition, through restructuring and the proposed introduction of lower, market-competitive port charges, there would be incentive for miners to increase throughput at the port. This could also incentivise expansion tonnages from existing mines and new mines.

“If successful, the consortium’s proposal would provide a long-term, sustainable and economic solution for this important state and national infrastructure asset.”

The firm, however, noted that there is no certainty that a deal would be signed.

It said: "Discussions with all interested parties are at an early stage."

Currently, Aurizon operates a coal network ?consisting of nearly 2,670km of heavy haul rail infrastructure in Central Queensland, according to its website.

It transports over 250 million tonnes of Australian commodities, connecting miners, primary producers, and industry with international and domestic markets. 

Image: A coal heap. Photo: courtesy of dan/