Pacific National Coal will provide rail haulage functions for Whitehaven Coal for 12 more years, under the specifications of a new contract between the companies.
Replacing an existing agreement, the deal will run until June 2026 and includes a number of different working conditions.
The largest component is a shift to a more efficient train fleet ahead of the introduction of full 30-tonne axle load operations in 2015.
According to Asciano Limited, Pacific National’s parent company, the existing arrangement to transport 9.5 million tonnes per annum (mt pa) will continue until load conditions increase. At this point, the deal will switch to 11.5mt pa.
Asciano said the inking of the deal means the organisation can commit to implementing the new fleet configuration.
The firm claims Whitehaven will benefit by receiving a reduction in per tonne haulage costs, as the new fleet means fewer train services are required overall. Improved track capacity utilisation is also a significant advantage.
Director of Pacific National Coal David Irwin confirmed the company is pleased to be working constructively with Whitehaven on service provision.
Describing it as a “win/win agreement”, he added that the company is now expanding the duration of its New South Wales contracted portfolio and meeting internal reduction targets.
“We … look forward to delivering Whitehaven improved efficiency, higher levels of service and reduced per tonnage haulage costs,” he stated.
The initiative had faced opposition from the Northern Inland Council for the Environment, but the Federal Court of Australia dismissed the legal challenge.
Paul Flynn, managing director and CEO of Whitehaven, said the project “will be one of the most significant pieces of economic infrastructure ever delivered in regional NSW, generating over 340 direct construction jobs and a further 470 permanent positions”.