Port of Newcastle

From Global Energy Monitor

Port of Newcastle, the world's largest coal export port, is located in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.

There are three separate coal terminals within the Port of Newcastle: Carrington coal terminal and Kooragang Coal Terminal, both operated by Port Waratah Coal Services; and the newer NCIG Coal Export Terminal, operated by the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group. The three terminals have a combined annual capacity of 211 million tonnes. Coal exports represent more than 90 percent of total volume. In the financial year 2019/20, the Port of Newcastle exported 163.8 million tonnes of coal.[1] Most coal exports are to China and Japan.[2]

A fourth coal loader has been proposed at the port, the Newcastle Terminal 4.


The undated satellite photo below shows the port in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

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In April 2014 the government of New South Wales entered into a $1.62 billion, 99-year agreement leasing the port to the Port of Newcastle consortium[3], which is owned 50% by the Australia-based Infrastructure Fund (managed by Hastings) and 50% by the Hong Kong-based China Merchants Group.

In December 2014, the Port of Newcastle consortium announced that it would increase charges for loading coal effective January 1, 2015, noting that port's former owner (the government of New South Wales) had not maintained prices in line with market rates during its 19-year tenure.[4]

In December 2015 the Port of Newcastle reported that for the calendar year to November 2015, its coal exports were down 3 percent year over year to 98.4 million metric tons. Analysts have said the decline brings into question the "robust growth coal industry" storyline promulgated by coal groups to promote expansion of the port.[5]

In May 2021, National Australia Bank (NAB) organised for the Port of Newcastle a A$565 million refinancing loan package which carries with it certain sustainability conditions which the port must fulfil. NAB's financial backing came after another major Australian bank, ANZ, withdrew its funding for the port under its emissions action plan and over fears that the port could become a financial liability as the world moves away from fossil fuels. Melbourne-based NGO Market Forces said NAB's support does not align with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the sustainability goals are meaningless if they do not address coal exports. According to Market Forces research, the 160 million tonnes of coal exported through the port last year would result in the release of 396 million tonnes of carbon, while reducing the port's emissions – one of the loan conditions – would save just 2,333 tonnes of carbon.[6]


In October 2014, protestors from a dozen South Pacific nations announced plans for a day-long blockade of ships entering and leaving the Port of Newcastle, to express their opposition to the port's impact on climate change.[7]

In November 2021, two young women abseiled from the coal handling machine to disrupt operations for several hours. The act was in protest for Australia’s inaction on climate change. "This is us responding to the climate crisis. This is humans trying to survive,” one of the protestors told the media.[8]



  1. "Port Authority of NSW Annual Reports 2019/20", Newcastle Port Corporation website, accessed August 2021.
  2. "Facilities", Newcastle Port Corporation website, accessed January 2015.
  3. "Australia State Sells World's Largest Coal-Export Terminal for $1.62 Billion", Wall Street Journal, April 30, 2014.
  4. "Australian Newcastle port's new leaseholder hikes charges for coal ships", Platts, December 4, 2014.
  5. Tim Buckley, "The News From Newcastle: Coal Is in a Bind," IEEFA, Dec 7, 2015
  6. Ben Millington, "NAB's Port of Newcastle funding tied to green sustainability goals", ABC, May 4, 2021
  7. "South Pacific flotilla to protest climate change inaction at Australia coal port", Reuters, October 1, 2014.
  8. Rachel Pannett, Protesters disrupt the world’s largest coal port: ‘This is us responding to the climate crisis’, Washington Post, Wednesday November 17, 2021

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