Abbot Point Coal Terminal.
Abbot Point Coal Terminal. Peter Holt

Abbot Point administrators sued by John Holland

CONSTRUCTION giant John Holland has launched a $28.5 million claim, seeking damages and interest, against the company running the Abbot Point coal terminal.

John Holland claims Adani Abbot Point Terminal breached its contracts for marine works and shiploader projects when it did not extend completion dates enough to account for inclement weather and other difficulties the company faced.

Adani has lodged a $6 million counterclaim, plus yet to be determined damages, for contract breaches and allegations about the quality of John Holland's work performance.

The works relate to an expansion at the site, near Bowen, in 2009 and 2010 to increase overall coal throughput at the terminal.

Documents from both sides, lodged in the Queensland Supreme Court, amass about 1000 pages across two folders, though the matter is progressing slowly through the court system.

John Holland has alleged the ports superintendent did not value and certify the company's work correctly, considering delays, and therefore breached a contract requirement.

"If he had acted honestly and fairly he would arrive at a reasonable measure or value of work, quantities or time," lawyers for John Holland argued in the originating claim.

"He would have to assess John Holland was entitled to additional extensions of time for practical completion on the marine works contract because there were 36.25 inclement weather days, 50 days for the commissioning claim and one day for the power outage claim."

John Holland says it was charged $24,999 liquidated damages a day but claimed in early September, 2010, the rail link to service the port would not be complete for "some considerable time".

"As such, even if the marine works were completed by the date for practical completion, PCQ could not earn any income from the port, because there was no capacity to transport coal to or from the port over land," documents said.

John Holland claimed the marine works delays subsequently contributed to the shiploader completion delays, as well as carbon steel price changes.

Adani denies John Holland is entitled to the money, rather the superintendent did grant reasonable time extensions and the construction company was "obliged" to pay $25,000 a day for every day over the completion deadline.

Lawyers for Adani argued any delay John Holland suffered was because of defective work, equipment failures, component clashes "due to poor and inadequate shop detailing" and/or poor routing service management and the way it positioned site-mounted devices.

They claimed the delays from this poor work performance resulted in a "piecemeal approach" to the no-load commissioning works.

"Therefore, PCQ's consultants Aurecon Hatch had to carry out no-load commission at Abbot Point, where the work was made more difficult because of defective work and commissioning work on a piecemeal basis," documents read.

"Adani has suffered loss and damage in the PCQ was obliged to pay Aurecon Hatch an amount far greater than that which would have payable had John Holland performed those obligations."


- John Holland suing Adani for $28 million

- Adani countersuing John Holland for $6 million plus yet to be determined damages


John Holland was engaged to complete two projects at the Abbot Point Coal Terminal, about 30km north of Bowen.

The marine works included onshore works - laydown and pile yards - and offshore work fronts - such as jetty works, berth, a wharf bridge, self-elevating platform and three rigs.

The shiploader was a wheeled machine more than 50m high which travelled along the berth to align with vessel hatches and transfer coal from the conveyor.

The machine's loading sequences and other functions could be controlled from a cabin. Both contracts involved supplying, fabricating and commissioning the works.


February 27, 2009: John Holland enters contract with Ports Corporation of Queensland (now Adani) for a shiploader project as part of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal X50 expansion works.

April 27, 2009: JH enters contract with PCQ for marine works project at Abbot Point Coal Terminal.

September 27, 2010: JH completes marine works project.

December 23, 2010: JH completes the shiploader project.

May, 2011: Queensland Treasurer transfers PCQ obligations and liabilities to Adani Abbot Point Terminal.

October 28, 2011: JH launches legal action, lodging documents with the Qld Supreme Court.

December 23, 2011: Adani lodges a counterclaim and its defence of allegations made against it.