TSBE calls for action on Surat Basin investment

Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise (TSBE) has welcomed news that the Queensland Government granted mining leases to Glencore’s proposed coal mine near Wandoan.

As stated in the Government’s Resource authority public report, an important condition of the granting of the lease was:

“The holder must take all reasonable steps to ensure that coal which has been mined under the authority of Mining Lease is not transported by rail to the Port of Brisbane for export without the approval of the Minister.”

TSBE Executive Chairman, Shane Charles, said a rail solution would now be needed to support expanded mining operations in the Surat Basin. He said the government of the day could choose to send coal down the current line through Brisbane although that does appear, depending on tonnages, to have a number of obstacles.

Mr Charles said it is important to start thinking now about the infrastructure required to get this mine, and others in the vicinity to fruition.

“We are aware that the mines will not start anytime soon, but we also know that big pieces of infrastructure, like new rail infrastructure to freight north to Gladstone’s export port, take a long time to deliver," he said. 

“We believe that Surat Basin coal will be required by the international markets by 2023, so industry and the Government, supported by private equity, needs to start progressing this rail infrastructure now.

“Significant private sector investment in freight rail infrastructure will open the entire precinct to commodity and agricultural exporters, as well as providing hundreds of jobs for regional Queenslanders.”

Mr Charles said private equity had already invested tens of millions of dollars to open rail corridors in the Surat Basin, and were ready to continue investing.

“We would ask coal mine proponents and the State Government to engage with private investors, like ATEC Rail Group (ARG) who have already invested considerably in the Surat, to find a solution to make this investment in rail infrastructure happen, and for construction to begin.”

Mr Charles said he has spoken with ATEC Rail Group (ARG) Managing Director, John Balassis, who confirmed that ARG was currently in discussion with the State Government for ARG to invest over $250 million into expanding freight corridors throughout the Surat Basin.

Mr Charles said ARG had already invested significantly to find an improved freight transport solution for minerals, agriculture and commodity exporters in the Surat, and that ARG’s investment would improve existing freight bottlenecks and get freight off the roads.

TSBE would encourage the Queensland Government to hasten investment discussion with ARG, so that construction on a rail solution could commence, provide certainty for landowners along the corridors, and most importantly, provide jobs for the region.