Galilee Basin Coal Mines to Karumba in the Gulf of Carpentaria:-
This analysis is the same as for the Galilee Basin Mines - Bowen proposal except that the last section of track
is diverted to Karumba instead of going to Bowen.
This is a proposed system to transport coal from the Galilee Basin Coal mines to a new coal loading facility at
Karumba in the Gulf of Carpentaria. 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 $13.52/tonne (China Stone) and $16.80/tonne (China First). The unit
cost is $0.0170/Ntk (nett tonne kilometre). There may well be some Government subsidies available (refer
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, as shown in the graphics attached, and 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). Nominal figures have been included for
these in the study. 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,
electricity, communications (e.g. NBN), etc. if required.
The sails under the track are an optional extra only for rainwater harvesting, hence their costs have not been
included in the coal transport costs. There have been many concerns raised about the effect the mines’ water supply
requirements will have on other parties external to the mines and ground water, hence their details have been
included as a possible alternate additional water source.
The water harvesting figures are on the basis of sails to 100% of the track between the China First and China
Stone mines. An allowance of 1% of the track downstream of the China Stone mine has been included. This is intended
to be used, as desired, as part of any reparation to landowners for the track crossing their land. Any water
harvested and stored by them would be a valuable adjunct to a land owner’s operations during drought.
Also, the CoalTran vehicles could be used to transport water from the coast to the mine on their return journey
Karumba Pros & Cons:-
- Higher coal transport costs.
- Longer track construction phase.
- Lower sea transport costs. The voyage of bulk coal carriers (Bulkers) from Asian ports to Karumba is
shorter than that to Bowen. From the Dhamra port in India, the voyage is approximately 1050 km (567 nm)
shorter. For a Bulker travelling at 14 knots, the voyage time is reduced by approximately 40 hours each way -
80 hours (3.33 days) per round trip, giving greater utilisation of the Bulker.
- The depth of the Gulf of Carpentaria is in the range of 40 - 60 metres, allowing the use of larger Bulkers
than from Bowen as they are not restricted by the available depth of the Torres Strait.
- Less cyclonic activity in the Gulf of Carpentaria than on the Queensland east coast.
- The Bulkers are not subjected to the restrictions of operating within the Great Barrier Reef Marine
- Removes the political and conservationist’s objections to marine operations within the Great Barrier Reef
Marine Park. This is particularly pertinent now as there is great concern within Government about the
possibility that the UNESCO World Heritage Committee will declare the Great Barrier Reef to be "in
- Aligns with the Australian Government’s plans to turn Northern Australia into a food bowl. This track can
support additional traffic transporting food part of the way to southern markets.
- Aligns with the Queensland Government’s plans to decentralise Queensland as outlined in its recently
released "Queensland Plan".
- Given the above, it may well be that the Australian and Queensland Governments would consider subsidising
the track cost to encourage its construction. Its construction would prove to be a catalyst for development of
the region. If subsidies of 30% were available, the coal transport cost would reduce by more than 20%.
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.
Other Case Studies
Brisbane to Melbourne
Gold coast & S.E. Queensland
Galilee Basin coal mines to Bowen