Ebony Battersby

First WICET coal shipment sails to Hong Kong

LADEN with approximately 74,750 tonnes of coal, WICET's first shipment departed Gladstone Harbour mid-afternoon yesterday.

The carrier, Toro Orient, made a slow exit - officially leaving Gladstone Harbour at 3.50pm.

Bound for a power station in Hong Kong, the shipment marks the end of a three year construction and the beginning of operations at Gladstone's coal terminal, WICET.

WICET yesterday declined to provide any comment, but an employee was parked at Auckland Point watching the vessel.

"Everything has gone very smoothly," he said.

"A few very small hiccups have occurred so far, but all were resolved very quickly and it's great to see her leaving the harbour."

The employee, who says he has overseen the entire operation, confirmed Toro Orient was carrying 1750 tonnes more than originally reported.

Falling coal prices have raised questions of how many will use WICET, with some of its owners having run into financial strife.

One owner, Cockatoo Coal, was forced to undertake a $125 million equity raising in February after falling coal prices prevented it getting the necessary finance to expand its Baralaba coal mine, while another owner, Bandanna Energy, went into administration in September.

Greenpeace took the opportunity to slam the new coal terminal in a press release sent out yesterday, calling it a "ship to nowhere".

"It's taken seven years and around $3bn to build this port and the coal market is looking more depressed than ever. Coal demand has slumped, there's a glut in supply and prices are still falling. This coal port should never have been built and should be the last along the Great Barrier Reef," Greenpeace's Shani Tager said.

WICET declined the opportunity to respond.


November 2008: Premier Anna Bligh announces new coal terminal project which would involve 16 coal companies and which would start exporting 25 million tonnes each year from last 2012

October 2011 Final investment decision gives project the go-ahead

November 2011: Contracts let for earthworks.

January 2012: Work starts on changes to Gladstone-Mt Larcom Road intersection

November 2012: Xstrata concedes its Wandoan coal mine project is in doubt.

May 2013 first gantry arrives

July 13 Project managers Worley Parsons replaced by WICET on site managers

December 2013 70% completion announced.

January 2014: The Port of Gladstone is named the fourth largest coal export port in the world.

January 2014: Glencore struggles to find buyers for its coal.

June 2014: Cockatoo Coal announces expansion plans.

September 2014: 90 % complete

March 2015: First coal arrives.

April 28, 2015 first shipment leaves port.

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