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$4bn bid for WICET prompts CQ mine sale speculation

UPDATE 12.25pm:

MINING giant Glencore has responded to speculation Macquarie Capital, Brookfield and Aurizon are keen to buy its Rolleston Mine in the Bowen Basin.

The speculation comes amid news Aurizon and Macquarie Capital have made a $4 billion bid to acquire Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal.

Rolleston coal mine.
Rolleston coal mine. Daniel Burdon

In a statement, the company said there was "strong interest" from a number of parties for the mine, but an official agreement has not yet been made.

"We welcome the reported interest from Macquarie Capital, Brookfield and Aurizon and are open to receiving a proposal from them and all other interested parties," the company said.

"We will assess bids as they are received in line with the process timetable."

The preferred bidder for the coal mine is expected in the first half of next year.

Earlier 8.50am:

AURIZON has confirmed it is in early discussions to acquire Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal, in a rumoured $4 billion deal.

As part of a consortium proposal, which is said to also involve Macquarie Group, Aurizon would acquire WICET and other consortium members would acquire one or more of WICET's source mines.

A week after the first load of coal arrives at the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal, dozers and trucks begin to move the coal to bed down the stockyard.

Photo Mara Pattison-Sowden / The Observer
A week after the first load of coal arrives at the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal, dozers and trucks begin to move the coal to bed down the stockyard. Photo Mara Pattison-Sowden / The Observer Mara Pattison-Sowden

In an ASX announcement, the company said the proposal would secure long-term volumes for WICET, and would introduce lower, market-competitive port charges, which it hopes would be an incentive for miners to increase throughput at the port.

It said this could also incentivise expansion tonnages from existing and new mines.

Demonstrating the rising costs for WICET's owners, a Caledon Coal administrator's report said the terminal's handling charge rose from A$14.16/t in 2016 to A$21.83/t in 2017.

Aurizon, which operates rail infrastructure and train haulage services for coal customers in Queensland's Bowen Basin, said it saw strategic alignment with acquiring WICET.

"If successful, the consortium's proposal would provide a long-term, sustainable and economic solution for this important state and national infrastructure asset," the company said.

"Discussions with all interested parties are at an early stage. There is no certainty a transaction will result from the discussions."

WICET owes about $3.9billion in senior debt to a lending syndicate along with $US375million of junior debt.

Topics:  aurizon coal coal mine coal terminal gladstoneindustry glencore wicet



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