T4 coal-loader could cost between $4 billion and $5 billion

PORT Waratah Coal Services has authorised the spending of another $60million on its planned T4 coal-loader on Kooragang Island.

A company spokesman said the $60million authorised by the PWCS board took the total spending to $110million.

The spokesman said T4 was being planned in stages with a ‘‘broad’’ potential maximum capacity of 120million tonnes a year, but the overall size of the loader would depend on the planning approval process.

Overall, the loader could cost between $4billion and $5billion.

PWCS said it had taken another step in its environmental strategy last week by buying 242hectares at Tomago on the northern bank of the Hunter River. It bought this site from the state government’s Hunter Development Corporation.

It was also buying the 406-hectare Ellalong Lagoon site from interests associated with developer Duncan Hardie.

Together, the two sites cost more than $10million.

PWCS had also spent $40million on environmental studies and preliminary engineering and design works.

PWCS chief executive Hennie Du Plooy said the board had committed another $60million for advanced geotechnical investigations and further design and engineering works.

‘‘This allocation will also include work on the identification and specifications of major equipment, which will allow PWCS to start placing orders for major components with long lead times,’’ Mr Du Plooy said.

At a recent business lunch that fell on the day Hydro announced plans to close its Kurri Kurri aluminium smelter, Mr Du Plooy said PWCS was determined to maintain investment in the region.

‘‘What’s happening at Hydro is extremely sad, but it’s also a reminder of the importance of significant economic opportunities when they come along,’’ Mr Du Plooy said.

‘‘T4 is one of those opportunities and we are pursuing it with vigour.’’

He said the company was reviewing the 485 submissions lodged with the NSW Department of Planning after the state government extended the time for comment.

‘‘ ... there is a minority of people ... whose opposition is based on [an] ideological position, which we are unlikely to be able to change,’’ Mr Du Plooy said.

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