The Queensland government plans to expand the port of Abbot Point to nine terminals on the back of overwhelming demand from the private sector.
The government had expected to approve an expansion from three terminals to seven.
But a spike in interest from some of the country’s biggest mining companies will now take the total number of proposed terminals to nine, Premier Anna Bligh said.
She said Abbot Point, about 25 kilometres north of Bowen, was destined to become one of Australia’s, and the world’s, key export hubs.
“This is a major new development that will drive an enormous economic surge through north Queensland, potentially creating tens of thousands of jobs,” Ms Bligh said.
“The super-expansion of Abbot Point will turbo-charge the local economy and boost Queensland’s exports to the world.”
She said the move would increase the export capacity of the port to about 400 million tonnes per annum, making it one of the largest coal export facilities in the world.
“The companies chosen will now progress to the next stage of contract negotiations for the development of new coal terminals at the port,” Ms Bligh said.
The port of Abbot Point now has one export terminal (T1), and two that are being developed by BHP and Hancock.
The expansion proposal involves terminals four to nine, with the first shipment of coal exported in 2017.
The port of Abbot Point has experienced significant growth in recent years. In 2007, export capacity was 15 million tonnes per annum, rising to 50 million tonnes per annum last year.
From 2017 export capacity is expected to reach about 385 million tonnes per annum.
Ms Bligh said the expansion was in addition to a multi-cargo facility that would provide a sheltered harbour for export vessels.
Deputy Premier and Treasurer Andrew Fraser said there was significant industry interest in the expansion.
“This is a huge vote of confidence in the future, and shows the market is there for increased private sector investment in new coal export infrastructure in Queensland,” he said.