Hunter Coal - Whitehaven Expansion
Australia's Aston, Whitehaven lock in rail capacity for coal projects
Perth (Platts)--16Aug2011/546 am EDT/946 GMT

Aston Resources said Tuesday that it has secured 2 million mt/year of rail haulage capacity from the second quarter of 2013 and ramping up to 5 million mt/year by Q3 2013 for its Maules Creek metallurgical coal project the Gunnedah coal field in New South Wales, Australia.

Securing the rail haulage capacity from Australian Rail Track Corp for its potential exports "has further de-risked the infrastructure requirements for the delivery of first coal," Aston Resources CEO Todd Hannigan said in a statement.

The company expects to secure by the end of 2011 rights to additional rail capacity for its 85%-owned Maules Creek project, which is due to start production in mid-2013, and to ramp up to 10.5 million mt/year in 2015, Aston Resources said.


Meanwhile, Whitehaven Coal said in a statement Tuesday that it had entered into 10-year contracts with Australian Rail Track Corp for access between its Gunnedah Basin coal mines and Newcastle port. State-owned ARTC is operator of the Hunter Valley coal railway in New South Wales.

"Entry into these arrangements with ARTC represents a significant milestone for the company, as they secure the long-term rail track capacity required to support the company's significant growth plans in the Gunnedah Basin," said Whitehaven Managing Director Tony Haggarty in the company statement.

Whitehaven plans to triple its saleable coal production from 5 million mt/year at present to 15.8 million mt/year by 2014-15, according to a recent company presentation.

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