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Port sharing discussions fail

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Vessel loading times at Australia’s largest coal export port in Newcastle could become longer after the collapse of five-year negotiations between the industry and the NSW Government over port sharing. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it had revoked the vessel management system which allowed miners to operate under a berth rationing programme and effectively gave coal producers the power to allocate port capacity among themselves. The ACCC gave the Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS), the New South Wales Government and the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG) until August 31 to agree on a longer- term proposal to the the ship queue problem. The ACCC said as only two of the parties met the deadline the interim approval would be revoked immediately. According to the miners, the end of the system could potentially lead to an increase in vessel waiting times in the coming months as well as higher demurrage costs. The New South Wales Government will discuss with the companies tomorrow to introduce short-term measures to help manage coal exports following the withdrawal of the ACCC's authorisation.

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