Gladstone Ports Corporation chief executive and chairman visited Asian customers last month.
Gladstone Ports Corporation chief executive and chairman visited Asian customers last month. Mara Pattison-Sowden

Port bosses visit Asia's big coal users in game-changing trip

A VISIT to Asia's largest coal users has helped secure Gladstone's future as an industry-heavyweight.

Gladstone Ports Corporation's chief executive officer and chairman visited the company's biggest international customers last month to discuss any concerns and challenges and market the port's facilities.

CEO Peter O'Sullivan said the Japan, India and China trip was also an opportunity to ensure Gladstone was firmly in their sights for future development, including in renewable energy.

He remains confident coal demand will continue beyond 2030, but said growth in renewable energy looked promising too.

Discussions with Japanese coal customers included opportunities for hydrogen production in Gladstone's State Development Area.

He said companies struggled with Japan's lack of sunlight and space, which Australia has plenty of.

JSW Dolvi Works steel plant at West coast of Maharashtra in India was one of the customers GPC's chief executive and chairman visited recently.
JSW Dolvi Works steel plant at West coast of Maharashtra in India was one of the customers GPC's chief executive and chairman visited recently.

"In 20 years time Gladstone might be exporting hydrogen to Japan," Mr O'Sullivan said.

"We discussed being a partner with Japan, and other countries, it's very early days but from our perspective it's good to find out their interest in hydrogen as a future fuel," he said.

Gladstone Port, which this year surpassed Hay Point at Queensland's largest, exported 5,389,388 tonnes of coal to Japan, 4,535,908 to India and 3,384,011 tonnes to China during the September quarter.

Their major customers, steel producers in Japan and Korea, are at full production due to positive growth in South East Asia because of the 2020 Japan Olympics.

Meanwhile China is closing some of its steel mills and cutting back mine production, which Mr O'Sullivan said could benefit Australia.

"At the moment they're not doing a great deal of exports so that's good for Australia," he said.

"But Australia can be impacted if China was to ramp back up its mine production and start exporting again, because it's closer to Japan and Korea."

Mr O'Sullivan and port chairman Leo Zussino also reassured customers the increase of LNG vessels using the port would not impact schedules or cause delays.

Mr O'Sullivan said the port has developed new efficiency drives, including under keel vessel technology that will be used next year, to prevent delays.

"The more we can sell the benefits of RG Tanna to coal customers and new customers, we can attract more business through that terminal as opposed to other terminals in Australia," he said.

"It secures the future of our terminal, and more ships coming in is good for Gladstone."



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