SOME of the biggest mining companies in the world have joined forces to oppose rail freight operator Aurizon in court, in an increasingly bitter industry brawl.

The 10 coal companies, including BHP, Glencore, Peabody and Anglo American, have banded together to fight alongside the Queensland Competition Authority in a case brought by Aurizon in which they accuse the then QCA chairman Roy Green of apprehended bias.

The strategy adds to the crisis in the coal industry, which is attempting to stop Aurizon from permanently adopting maintenance changes on the central Queensland coal network that will slash as much as $4 billion from coal exports.

The move comes as a report from UK market analyst Wood Mackenzie says Australia is on a path to losing up to $2 billion already this year because of issues that include the Aurizon dispute.

As about 30 ships back up at the Dalrymple Bay coal port in central Queensland, the report from Wood Mackenzie predicts the Aurizon dispute will last until September at least.

 

Mining giants are fighting against Aurizon.
Mining giants are fighting against Aurizon.

The issue arose in February when the QCA made a draft decision relating to how much Aurizon could earn from the monopoly it holds over the central Queensland rail network.

It was $1 billion less than what Aurizon wanted, so it cut back its maintenance as a cost-saving measure.

But just days after making that draft decision, Professor Green announced he would be leaving the QCA to join the Port of Newcastle, which is considered a competitor to Aurizon. That sparked the allegation of apprehended bias.

In advertisements in Wednesday's The Courier-Mail, the message from the 10 coal companies to Aurizon is they are damaging the reputation of Queensland's largest export industry.

Japanese steel companies that buy Queensland's coking coal have expressed frustration over the dispute and some have warned they will go elsewhere to buy coal.



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