Supporting an $11 billion industry

As a major Australian coal export terminal, Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group provides an essential service to NSW coal producers

The Newcastle Coal export terminal is an integral part of Australia's coal supply chain generating strong economic benefits for the Hunter Region and for New South Wales. Our facilities include rail, coal storage, shiploading facilities and associated infrastructure. 

Situated in the Port of Newcastle the world's largest export port, Newcastle Coal is key part of the supply chain network, providing a core element of the coal delivery process linking the mine to end customer.  

The key components of this process are as follows.

Upstream operations: coal producers produce coal which is then transported by rail to the terminal.

Newcastle Coal Terminal: following delivery of coal to the terminal, the coal is unloaded from the rail wagons, moved and held on site until it is loaded on to ships bound for export markets.  Ownership of coal is not passed to Newcastle Coal, but is retained by the coal producers, which each have dedicated stockpile areas to facilitate management of their coal inventory.

End customer: the coal is transported from the berths of the terminal via ships to end customers.

1. Upstream operations - Coal Production

Coal is extracted from both open cut and underground mines in the Newcastle, Hunter, Gloucester, Gunnedah and Western coalfields of New South Wales.

The coal producers that develop and operate the source mines for coal throughput through the Terminal are group entities of Banpu Public Company Limited, BHP Billiton Group, Idemitsu Kosan Co. Ltd, Peabody Energy Corporation, Rio Tinto Group, Whitehaven Coal Limited and Yanzhou Coal Mining Co. Ltd. Once extracted, the coal is generally stockpiled at the mine prior to further transportation.

Coal Production
Source: Peabody Energy Corporation

2. Upstream operations - Rail Transport

Coal from Newcastle Coal source mines is transported by rail through the Hunter Valley Coal Chain.  Access to rail infrastructure generally involves:

  • Coal producers entering into access agreements with ARTC which provide a contractual commitment to rail path availability and use;
  • Operator agreements entered into between ARTC and accredited above rail operators; and
  • Rail haulage agreements between coal producers and above rail operators for the haulage of coal from mine to port. Ownership of the coal remains with the coal producer during rail transportation.
C Train
Source: Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group

3. Rail Spurs and Rail Siding

Coal trains enter the Newcastle Coal site from the Kooragang Island main rail line.  The trains travel along the Newcastle Coal rail arrival sidings and empty their coal wagons into one of the two train unloading stations. Empty trains continue around the Newcastle Coal rail loops in a clockwise direction to the departure sidings and then re-join the Kooragang Island main rail line.

Rail Sidings
Source: Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group

4. Unloading Stations

Coal is unloaded from trains at unloading stations located on the northern side of the rail loop.  The two train unloading stations are housed within a single multi-level structure (approximately 13 metres high). Each train unloading station has a capacity of up to approximately 8,500 tonnes per hour.  Based on a nominal 7,000 tonne capacity train, an average of approximately 26 trains is able to be unloaded each day with continuous dumping.  The infrastructure has capacity to receive up to a maximum of 40 trains on any one day.  To achieve annual throughout of 66 Mt, Newcastle Coal needs to receive approximately 26 trains per day (that is, 13 trains per unloading station per day).

Dumpstation
Source: Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group

5. Inbound Conveyors

Coal is then transported a short distance via conveyors from the unloading stations to the stacker reclaimers at the stockyards.  The conveyors incorporate an overpass over an access road.

The conveyors have standardised 2,500 millimetre width steel cord belts and support structures with provision for spillage clean up. Inbound coal also passes through one of two sampling stations prior to being deposited on stockpiles.  These provide samples to the coal companies for the measurement and recording of coal grade and quality (for example, moisture, chemical assay and ash content).

Conveyor
Source: Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group

6. Stacking

Combined stacker reclaimer machines receive the coal from a conveyor.  There are four stacker reclaimer machines at the Newcastle Coal Terminal.

The coal is passed out the arm of the stacker reclaimer and deposited (stacked) onto stockpiles in the Newcastle Coal stockyard.  The average stacking capacity is 8,500 tonnes per hour. The total mass of each machine is approximately 2,200 tonnes and each machine travels above the stockyard on two sets of standard gauge rail lines on concrete sleepers and ballast (four rails in total).

4 24 Stacker Reclaimer Rs
Source: Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group

7. Stockyard

Coal is stored in stockpiles at the stockyard until it is ready to be shipped.  The stockpile configuration has been selected to accommodate maximum coal storage configured as piles approximately 1,200 metres long and up to 24 metres in height.  This configuration allows for high utilisation of the combined stacker reclaimer machines and cost effective usage of storage space. The capacity of the Newcastle Coal stockyard is 6.1 Mt, assuming continuous stockpiles of coal.  The effective capacity will be dependent upon the number of coal types stockpiled.  Each shipper has dedicated stockpile areas to enable effective management of its coal inventory prior to shipment.

Stockyard
Source: Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group

8. Reclaiming

Coal is reclaimed from stockpiles through the rotating bucket wheel on the stacker reclaimer.  The bucket wheel boom length is 62.5 metres.  The average reclaiming capacity is 8,500 tonnes per hour.

Image: Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group

4 26 Stacker Reclaimers Rs
Image: Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group

9. Outbound Conveyors and Buffer Bins

Following the reclamation of coal from the stockpiles, the coal is transported via conveyors initially to two 2,000 tonne capacity buffer bins.  The buffer bins store coal from the stockyard to allow continuity of reclaiming during hatch changeover and in the event of any minor disruption of activity on the shiploaders (next step) and wharf conveyors, thus optimising the ship loading rate.

Each bin is provided with two belt feeders for loading an outgoing conveyor feeding the associated shiploader.  Each feeder is rated at 5,750 tonnes per hour with a maximum capacity of 8,625 tonnes per hour.  The feeders operate with a combined capacity of 11,500 tonnes per hour. Outbound coal also passes through one of two sampling stations prior to being loaded onto the vessel.  These provide samples for the measurement and recording of coal grade and quality (for example, moisture, chemical assay and ash content) against coal sales contract specifications.

Buffer
Image: Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group

10. Berths and Shiploaders

One of two shiploaders receives the coal from the feeders and transfers it to a ship waiting at the berth.  The shiploader machines have an average ship loading capacity of 10,500 tonnes per hour and peak loading capacity of 12,500 tonnes per hour to accommodate continuing loading. The shiploaders are rail mounted on a wharf structure with three shipping berths.  The wharf is constructed to receive capesize ships up to 320 metres long that can carry up to 230,000 tonnes of coal.  Currently the port restricts vessel length to 300 metres.  Ownership of the coal typically passes from the SoP Shipper to the end user once loaded on to the ship.

Berths
Image: Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group

11. End Customer's Power Station

Following loading of the coal onto ships, the coal is transported to its final destination.  Coal produced from Newcastle Coal source mines is predominantly thermal coal, which is used to fuel power stations.

Key markets for coal passing through the Terminal include Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

4 29 Power Station Rs
Image: Korea Midland Power Co., Ltd
Subscribe to the NCIG Community Newsletter.