Northwest U.S. Bulk Export Terminal
U.S. Bulk Export Terminal
When County was established, its strategy was to secure a large coal resource in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, USA with the view to becoming a significant miner and supplier of thermal coal to Asia. When ship loading capacity was found to be in short supply, the strategy was expanded to cover the construction of a purpose built bulk ship-loading facility to load export coal.
County is convinced the key to its US business strategy is to develop a diversified loading facility to reduce the inherent cyclic risk of coal and increase revenue opportunities through access to multiple bulk product markets in Asia.
U.S. Bulk Export Terminal Progress
At the end of October 2014, County signed an agreement to pursue the approval and construction of a multi-product bulk loading facility in North West USA with the company that approached County regarding this opportunity.
The company with which County has negotiated a business agreement has spent three years investigating the project area and researching and developing strategies and budget estimates for every aspect of the project requirements covering land access, rail transport, stakeholder (community, native tribe, local business and government) impacts, environmental impacts and engineering needs.
With the signing of the agreement, County committed to support the first stage of developing the opportunity and commence the process of securing some of the key assets, such as land and rail access rights needed for the project and to advance the feasibility study. This initial work has now commenced and is expected to take approximately six months to complete, although this may be extended. On completion of the initial work the project will be reviewed and a decision made on the merits of proceeding to a second development stage, which will be focused on further extending the feasibility studies, extensive community consultation and commencing the permitting process. Should the project proceed to approval, County, through a series of steps, including incremental funding, County will own an 85% share in the project.
Technical assistance on this project commenced in the first quarter of F2015 with an international engineering group using the extensive information database developed by the proponent company to give the County board confidence to move forward with this project over all others being studied.
A bulk coal handling terminal in this location has been scoped by the proponent company to be economically viable at a throughput capacity of 18.5 mtpa. However, the land size could also allow for loaders for other bulk products such as grain, fertiliser and other bulk products, significantly improving the potential economics and at the same time reducing the risk inherent in a one-product project.
County has focused on consolidating the business agreement by forming a new company to undertake the Loader Project. This new company focused on:
a) Identifying and engaging industry specialists, such as a Washington based land agent, to assist with activities identified as critical in the short term,
b) Engaging key advisors including legal and public relations expertise,
c) Approaching key businesses in the region that are likely to be supportive of the project, and
d) Having preliminary discussions with local government representatives, to provide a broad insight into the proposal.
Other potential terminal sites currently entering or navigating the permitting process provide valuable information and insights as to the timelines, challenges and requirements to achieve a successful project. County has the advantage of being able to benefit from this information to minimize both the costs and timelines associated with the permitting process.