Wiggins Island Coal Terminal
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Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal (WICET) is a coal export terminal at the Port of Gladstone in Queensland, Australia.
The facility opened in April 2015, after three years of construction.
WICET has applied to increase the port's initial operating capacity of 27 million tonnes to 84 million tonnes. But as of 2017, the terminal was facing nearly US$4 billion in debt and a potential takeover by Aurizon and Macquarie Capital, and the proposal appears shelved
The Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal (WICET) is located at Golding Point, to the west of the existing RG Tanna Coal Terminal, and forms part of the existing Port of Gladstone. The offshore wharf and loading facilities are situated north of Wiggins Island, adjacent to the Targinie Channel. The rail unloading facilities are located immediately south of the North Coast Line (NCL) and are connected to the Golding Point stockyard via a 5.6km long overland conveyor.
- Sponsor: Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal Pty Ltd
- Parent companies: Aquila Resources, Glencore, New Hope Group, Wesfarmers Curragh, Yancoal
- Location: Gladstone, Queensland, Australia
- Capacity: 27 million tonnes of coal per annum
- Status: Operating
- Start year: 2015
- Type: Exports
- Coal source: Surat and southern Bowen Basins, Australia
- Proposed Capacity: 57 million tonnes of coal per annum (Shelved)
- Financing: US$3 billion in debt financing from a group of public and commercial banks in 2011; US$2.57 billion in refinancing debt financing from a group of public and commercial banks in 2018
The terminal was originally proposed in 2010 by Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal Pty Ltd, a consortium of coal companies. The US$3.3 billion project led by Glencore Xstrata (a division of Glencore International) had an anticipated completion date of 2015.
At the end of September 2010 the WICET consortium announced that eight coal companies had made commitments to export 27 million tonnes of coal, which would be sufficient to enable the funding of the first stage of the terminal. The consortium stated that it expected that financing the proposal would be completed early in 2011 and shipments commence in 2014.
In October 2013, Bloomberg reported that the terminal would likely only operate at half its anticipated 27 million tonne capacity due to slumping coal demand, and in April 2014 energy policy news site RenewEconomy.com expressed skepticism about the project's financial viability in light of record low coal prices and a strong Australian dollar.
In October 2014, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the terminal had experienced delays due to cost disputes with contractors. However, John Massey, chairman of the WICET consortium, stated in November 2014 that the project would be completed in March 2015, despite these challenges.
The terminal opened in April 2015 with a capacity of 27 million tonnes per annum (mtpa). The Australia Coordinator-General extended the currency period for the EIS Evaluation Report for the proposed expansion to 84 mtpa from 7 January 2014 to 7 January 2016.
In 2018-19, approximately 11.4 Mt of coal was exported from WICET, the largest single year volume of coal exported from the terminal until the end of 2020. WICET is rated to provide annual throughput capacity of 27 mtpa, and there is currently 16 mtpa unallocated capacity. In 2019, WICET operated at less than 50% capacity.
Upon commissioning in 2015, WICET was owned by a consortium of eight Australian and international coal companies:
- Aquila Resources
- Bandanna Energy (left in 2016)
- Caledon Coal (left in 2017)
- Cockatoo Coal (left in 2016)
- New Hope Group
- Wesfarmers Curragh
The eight partners had agreed to pay port fees for 27 million tonnes whether they shipped that volume or not - setting themselves a tonnage charge as much as five-times higher than other coal ports. In March 2016 Reuters reported that low coal prices had pushed two of the terminal's original owners - Bandanna Energy and Cockatoo Coal - into administration. With the collapse of the companies the remaining partners have to cover the cost of the unused capacity. In 2017 Caledon Coal, owned by Chinese-state entity Guangdong Rising Asset Management (GRAM), was placed in administration with a debt of about US$4 billion.
In November 2017 Aurizon and Macquarie Capital made a US$4 billion bid to acquire Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal. WICET owes about US$3.9 billion in senior debt to a lending syndicate along with $US375million of junior debt.
In 2011, initial debt financing of US$3 billion for the construction and operation of the terminal was provided by the public banks China Development Bank, Export Development Canada, Korea Development Bank and KfW and the commercial banks Santander, National Australia Bank, Mizuho, Westpac, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, MUFG, ING, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, BOSI, BNP Paribas, Bank of China, ANZ and DBS Bank. US$2.57 billion of debt was provided in 2018 for refinancing of the terminal by most of the original lenders.
In 2020, Japanese bank MUFG sold US$80 million of its debt in WICET at less than US60¢ in the dollar, implying issues about the port's ability to repay its around US$3 billion of debt. WICET reached an agreement with its lenders to extend repayment on US$2.6 billion of its debt until 2026. But it still has to repay another AU$383 million in junior debt this year, as well as having another AU$575 million shareholder loan due in 2046. WICET, which is the most expensive coal terminal in Australia, struggled to increase its throughput even when coal exports were increasing. It is unclear how it will be able to attract new customers as market conditions prompt many to reconsider growth plans.
Impact on Barney Point Coal Terminal
In April 2010 it was announced that The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) authorized arrangements to transfer specified amounts of coal handling capacity from the Barney Point Coal Terminal to the proposed Wiggins Island terminal at the Port of Gladstone in Queensland. This is expected to facilitate the closure of Barney Point Coal Terminal, which has raised pollution concerns among residents of the area for a number of years.
Articles and resources
- "Wiggins Island coal export terminal open for business," Business Daily, April 26, 2015
- "Coal transport infrastructure development" Queensland Government Department of Transport and Main Roads website, accessed January 2015
- "$4bn bid for WICET prompts CQ mine sale speculation," The Observer, 13 Nov 2017
- "Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal Financing," IJGlobal, accessed September 2020.
- "Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal Refinancing 2018," IJGlobal, accessed September 2020.
- "Stranded assets: Australia's biggest coal project already at risk", RenewEconomy.com, April 17, 2014.
- "Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal achieves major milestone", Media Release, September 30, 2010.
- "Coal Slump Leaves Australia Port Half-Used, Lenders at Risk", Bloomberg, October 14, 2013.
- "WICET delay over cost claims", Sydney Morning Herald, October 6, 2014.
- "Consortium says Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal plans on track", ABC, November 23, 2014.
- "Wiggins Island Coal Terminal: Project overview," Queensland Government, updated Apr 1, 2015
- "Toowoomba to Gladstone(T2G) Inland Rail Economic Analysis," page 9 Central Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils, February 2021
- "Australian coal ports struggle with debt loads," Argus Media, April 20, 2020
- "Company Overview," WICET website, accessed June 2015
- "Glencore, partners in Australian port face heavy cost of boom era bet," Reuters, Mar 17, 2015
- "'Legalised theft': Workers devastated by mine collapse," The Observer, 31 Jul 2017
- "$4bn bid for WICET prompts CQ mine sale speculation," The Observer, 13 Nov 2017
- "Coal play WICET back in focus as lender bails," The Australian Financial Review, March 18, 2020
- "ACCC authorizes arrangements to close problem coal terminal at Gladstone Port" FindLaw Australia, April 22, 2010.
Related GEM.wiki articles
- Australia and coal
- Australian Coal Association
- Queensland and coal
- Port of Gladstone
- Barney Point Coal Terminal
- Coal terminals