Galilee Basin Coal Mines - Abbot Point, Bowen:-
This is a proposed system to transport coal from the Galilee Basin Coal mines to a new coal loading facility at
Abbot Point north of Bowen. There are five mines included in this proposal - China Stone, Carmichael Coal, Kevin’s
Corner, Alpha Coal and China First.
Coal transport charges vary between $4.83/tonne (China Stone) and $8.11/tonne (China First). The unit cost is
$0.0170/Ntk (nett tonne kilometre).
The CoalTran coal transport vehicle has a 50 tonne capacity and travels at 200 km/h. It has pneumatic tyres that
run on an elevated steel rail. Consequently, it can traverse grades that a normal truck can. Hence, it is
feasible that CoalTrans could deliver the coal directly to the loader conveyor at the port.
This would obviate stockpiling at the port and the consequent double handling of the product. Delivery of 8,000
tonnes/hour would require the arrival of 160 CoalTrans/hour at the port. The number of CoalTrans required to
achieve this is dependent on the distance of each mine from the port.
As well as servicing the coal transport needs of the mines, this system has capacity for additional traffic for
freight (e.g. mine equipment/supplies) or passengers (e.g. F.I.F.O. staff). With the addition of extra
mini-stations etc. along the route, the system could also service local communities/land owners.
As the track is elevated a minimum of five metres above ground on columns at 30 - 35 metre centres, it has no
impact on ground level vehicular traffic, pedestrians, animals, livestock or hydrology. A big plus when it comes to
negotiating with land owners along the route for permission to cross their land.
The track route is very flexible due to the grades that can be negotiated as a result of the pneumatic tyres
etc. as mentioned above. The longitudinal profile of the track can also be varied simply by variation of the column
heights or the incorporation of simple bridges across gullies. It is conceivable that, in some instances, the
column height could be 15 metres or more. The determining factor for the track route will often be the grades
required for the access road needed for the track construction and maintenance.
Being elevated, the system is virtually immune to service interruptions due to weather. The track will always be
built safely above flood levels. Only cyclones may impact on its operations and any impact will be of short
duration. The rails of the track are very substantial (1200WB 314) and, hence, will be extremely resistant to
damage. Common sense dictates that the track operations would be suspended during a cyclonic event and,
subsequently, while the track is checked for any resultant damage or debris (e.g. fallen trees or branches across
An additional benefit of this proposal is that the track is able to carry pipes/conduits for water, oil, gas,
communication cabling (e.g. NBN), etc. if required. This would provide additional income to defray part of the
capital cost of the track.
Also, the CoalTran vehicles could be used to transport water from the coast to the mine on their return journey
The financial study is based on the formation of a new public company (listed or unlisted) that would raise
start up capital from a share issue. Part of these funds would be used for the design and initial operating phase
and the remainder directed to the track construction. The vehicles would be purchased, as required, using separate
loan funding. The vehicle repayments have been included in this study.
The figures include a generous administration surcharge on the operating costs (excluding interest and
redemption charges on the track loans). This study does not include the cost of the coal loading infrastructure at
the mine sites or the port.
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