The history of Abbot Point Port, North Queensland, Australia
Abbot Point Port, located in North Queensland, Australia, is one of the most
important coal ports in the state. It is notable for being the most
northerly of the deepwater coal ports in the country, and there are very few
comparable ports along the Eastern coast which offers in-shore deep water
suitable for coal shipping.
While the first discovery of coal in Australia dates back to 1857 in
Victoria, there wasn't a discovery in Queensland until almost a decade later
in 1864, at the Blair Athol coal field in the Bowen Basin, with the first
open cut mine opening there some seventy years later in 1937. Up until that
point, all of the coal being mined in Australia was for domestic use, but
the first coal exports from the Bowen Basin region were made in 1959.
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The significance of Abbot Point dates back to the early 1980s when the
Government of Queensland gave approval for a deepwater port to be developed
in 1981 to allow for the exporting of coal from the nearby Collinsville,
Newlands and Sonoma Mines. Part of the Newlands coal rail network they are
connected to the coal laden Bowen Basin area of Queensland, and the port
development had an initial expected capacity of 6.5 million tons per year.
The Abbot Point Port itself was developed three years later, officially
commencing operation on 25th February 1984, and is home to coal handing and
rail transport facilities, coal storage areas, ship loaders, a jetty, and
offshore berths. All of this is located almost three kilometres inland.
When it was first opened, the facility was overseen by the Harbours
Corporation of Queensland, and operated by Abbot Point Bulkcoal Pty Ltd.
Since that time, Harbours Corporation has become most recently known as
North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation.
Since its initial opening, the use of Abbot Point has grown considerably to
the point that it has now reached an operating capacity where it is
exporting 50 million tons of coal every year. Considerable expansion is now
needed to meet the portís needs.
There are controversial expansion plans under way for the port that would
increase its output capacity to 85 million tons of coal per year, adding
additional storage, six additional wharves and increasing the size to
transform it into what would make it the world's largest coal port.
This had raised significant environmental concerns and revised plans were
put forward in May 2012 proposing just two new wharves. A series of
environmental assessments were conducted which concluded that there were
would be no impact on the Great Barrier Reef from the expansion, contrary to
claims that had been made by Greenpeace.
Government approval was finally granted in October 2012 for Hancock Coal who
had been one of the driving forces behind the expansion, on the condition
that they undertook a package of remedial environmental work in the area
surrounding the site of the Port.
Coal export from the newly expanded area of the facility is expected to
commence in 2016.