25,000 jobs hang on mine rail plan
IT IS the infrastructure deal that could determine when, how or if up to 25,000 jobs are created in Central Queensland.
An enormous mine-to-port rail plan is all but set in stone.
The new deal, by Aurizon - formerly QR National - with GVK Hancock, will build a supply route able to move coal in the millions of tonnes from the Galilee Basin, west of Rockhampton, to the rest of the world.
For GVK Hancock - the Australian arm of Indian energy powerhouse GVK aligned with Gina Rinehart's Hancock Coal - it assures that a 495-km rail line will be built from its Alpha coal mine to Abbot Point to carry 60 million tonnes of coal per year.
For its peers, it may amount to a lot of negotiation.
Aurizon will take a 51% stake in GVK Hancock's infrastructure arm, taking charge of the rail development and acting as exclusive rail partner for GVK Hancock once it begins moving coal.
The further discussions between the freight and mining giants would likely delay GVK's construction by about six months.
The Alpha mine was due to begin construction before the end of the year, to be finished by 2017.
The 60 million tonnes of capacity will serve only GVK. Other miners will have to increase this if they want access.
At a press conference on Monday, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney - flanked by Aurizon boss Lance Hockridge and GVK's GV Sanjay Reddy - said this would be a deal to benefit all players hoping to develop mines and rail in the Galilee Basin.
Mr Seeney repeated what he said early last year, that two rail lines spanning both north-south and the other east-west was his preference.
Described as an "open-access" deal by Mr Reddy, it was now up to other producers to come to the table.
These other players include AMCI and Bandanna, Indian giant Adani and Prof Clive Palmer's Waratah Coal.
The four have projects with a combined value of $19.4 billion, translating to more than 17,000 potential jobs in building and operating the mines.
GVK's Alpha and Kevin's Corner projects are worth $10.6 billion, creating about 8000 jobs.
APN understands companies aside from GVK were in the loop before Monday's announcement, but would now consider the implications.
Aurizon's coal hauling competitor Asciano, Professor Clive Palmer did not return requests for comment by deadline.
Adani declined to comment.