WICET investor bows out

AS the first shiploader for the Wiggins Island Coal Exporting Terminal arrives in Gladstone, one of the eight proponents of the project, Bandanna Energy, has entered into voluntary administration.

The 14% shareholder was scheduled to deliver four million tonnes of coal to the WICET facility annually from its major development project, The Springsure Creek Coal Project, south-east of Emerald.

The coal-exploration company was also earmarked as an investor for stage two of the terminal's expansion. It also invested in infrastructure to transport coal to the Port of Gladstone.

Chairman John Pegler said delayed approval of the Springsure Creek mining lease "and the deepening cyclical decline in seaborne thermal coal prices" had exacerbated delays in investor interest and participation.

WICET chief executive officer Robert Barnes did not wish to comment on the circumstances but said his terminal had been set up to cope with changing markets.

"(The) terminal was established with a robust legal and financial structure which has been designed to accommodate changing circumstances," he said.

Federal MP for Flynn Ken O'Dowd said the news was a reflection of the downturn.

"I am very disappointed at the loss of jobs and investment in the region," he said.

"Unfortunately, the termination of this project and the downturn in the industry has been largely brought about by a cyclical decline in thermal coal prices.

"Low demand for iron ore has had the flow-on effect of lowering the demand and prices for thermal coal."

Mr O'Dowd said the sector would recover, but an upturn would be heavily dependant on demand growth, mainly from the Chinese market.

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