Newman unveils royalty discounts for first to mine Galilee
IN THE race to develop in the Galilee Basin and collect millions in state-funded discounts, the question will come down to who is the fastest Indian?
On Thursday, Premier Campbell Newman used a major projects conference to unveil a hamper of benefits for the first company to develop coal mines in the province, which could prove to be the most lucrative set of Queensland developments for decades.
If all proposals for the Basin were developed, they would create 28,000 jobs, with 15,000 of those needed for construction.
As a trade-off for the first finisher having to build roughly 500km of rail, an enormous coal mine and fund part of the expansion of Abbot Point coal terminal near Bowen, the state will give a discount to royalty charges.
The government will also use legislation to resume land as another carrot to encourage action and help companies secure funding.
The obvious front-runner remains the $6.4 billion Alpha Coal project owned by Indian giant GVK Hancock Coal and billionaire coal magnate Gina Rinehart.
Alpha will be designed to export up to 30 million tonnes of coal per year - it already has state and federal approvals.
GVK group managing director Paul Mulder said he welcomed the plan.
GVK's pole position is a source of frustration for billionaire resort owner and member for Fairfax Clive Palmer whose Waratah Coal's own Alpha project is yet to score key approvals.
He is accusing the Queensland Government of favouritism, an allegation long denied by Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney who said his door was always open to Mr Palmer.
But Mr Palmer's Waratah Coal may have to move quickly if it is to even come second.
At the same conference, Queensland Coordinator-General Barry Broe seemed to warn fellow panelist and GVK Hancock Coal general manager Warren Phillips that a firm lead did not guarantee a win.
Mr Broe said GVK competitor Adani - which competes with GVK in India - may lack approvals right now but was "moving very fast".
Adani's $7.1 billion Carmichael coal, rail and port project will include a mine double the size of GVK's Alpha - capable of exporting 60 million tonnes per year.
Adani is less affected by coal prices, Mr Broe said, because its mine would directly supply Adani power stations built on the coast of the subcontinent.
"Adani has a massive coal mine in the Galilee Basin, and its state approvals are very close," Mr Broe said.
"That certainly gives me confidence the Galilee would be opened up. That will be a massive mine."
Mr Seeney said every company looking to develop in the Galilee Basin would be able to collect on the offer - but they must be first.
The Australian Greens, Greenpeace, Australian Marine Conservation Society criticised the incentives, frustrated that taxpayer funds were going into the pockets of multi-billion dollar corporations.