The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released a draft determination which proposes to allow Cockatoo Coal, Cuesta Coal, MetroCoal, Peabody Energy Australia PCI, QC Resource Investments and Whitehaven Coal to collectively negotiate with SunWater for water supply and in relation to the development of the Nathan Dam project in central Queensland.
“The ACCC is satisfied that collective bargaining is likely to result in transaction cost savings and will enable coal producers to secure access to water supply from the Nathan Dam,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“This will support mining expansions in the Surat and Bowen Basins and avoid any unnecessary delays in generating additional export revenue.”
“The ACCC is satisfied that there is likely to be little, if any, public detriment generated by the conduct as participation in the collective bargaining is voluntary and does not include boycott activity, there is limited composition of the bargaining group and limits on information exchanges,” Mr Sims said.
The ACCC previously granted interim authorisation to the coal producers to commence collective negotiations in November 2012.
Authorisation provides immunity 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.
More information about this application for authorisation and the ACCC’s draft decision will be available from www.accc.gov.au/AuthorisationsRegister.
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