The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has granted interim authorisation for Rio Tinto, Peabody and Pacific National (the Applicants) to coordinate transportation of coal in the Goonyella Coal Chain.
Rio Tinto and Peabody operate coal mines in central Queensland. Coal from these mines is transported via the Goonyella Coal Chain rail system to the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal, where it is loaded for export. Pacific National is a rail operator that transports coal for Rio Tinto, Peabody and other coal producers in the Goonyella Coal Chain.
The Goonyella Coal Chain has been operating well below its potential throughput capacity, resulting in lost exports.
“These arrangements seek to reduce capacity losses caused by inefficient interactions between elements of the coal supply chain by initially allowing these two producers to better coordinate their coal production and transportation arrangements,” ACCC Commissioner Jill Walker said.
“Interim authorisation allows the Applicants to implement the coordination arrangements and more efficiently use the coal chain infrastructure to export coal.
It is proposed that after an initial three month trial period, these arrangements will be open to all coal producers and rail operators. Interim authorisation commences immediately and will remain in place until the date that the ACCC's final determination comes into effect or it is revoked. The granting of interim authorisation in no way binds the ACCC in its consideration of the substantive application for authorisation.
Authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.
Interim authorisation allows the parties to engage in the conduct prior to the ACCC considering the substantive merits of the application.