Aurizon has reportedly submitted a $A1.25bn ($US 960m) proposal to the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), a federal government body tasked with opening up remote areas in the north of country.
Last year Indian coal miner Adani made a similar submission to NAIF for public investment in the form of a $A 1bn loan to build the rail and port infrastructure associated with its proposed Carmichael mine project.
The two proposals are in direct competition with each other.
Less than a year ago, Aurizon abandoned planning for a Galilee rail link incurring a $A 30m impairment. However, the report suggests that recently appointed CEO Mr Andrew Harding has brought a fresh outlook to Aurizon.
Aurizon’s proposal could be viewed as a strategic play in that it alleviates the government’s position of potentially providing a $A 1bn subsidy to a foreign investor for a project that is already mired in controversy.
Adani’s Carmichael proposal requires construction of a standard gauge 390km line to connect with the Adani-owned coal terminal at Abbot Point in north Queensland. The mine would have an initial production of 25 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), ramping up to 60mtpa over time.
Aurizon’s proposal would remove some infrastructure duplication, a potential change in gauge, and would also have a significant impact in reducing the total cost of the rail project.