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Today's Townsville Bulletin reports the still-closed Queensland Nickel Refinery north of Townsville is moving to begin its own rail operations. QNI Managing Director Nui Harris says the company has made an application to the National Rail Safety Regulator for it to become an accredited rail operator. The company reportedly "must take control of transport logistics from a cost and security perspective."
Queensland Nickel also told the Townsville Bulletin - "With works already commenced on recommissioning parts of the refinery, and nickel and cobalt production planned for 2020, the refinery is looking to leverage off efficient transport infrastructure, to provide an environment of low costs and high productivity."
According to QR's track data, QR owns the balloon loop used for loading at the Townsville Jetty and the balloon loop used for unloading at Cobarra, plus the intermediate sections of the Jetty Branch and the North Coast Line. However Aurizon retains ownership of the Cobarra yards, locomotive shed and servicing facilities - and the company is currently using the yard to store various nickel ore, Mt Isa concentrate and cattle wagon sets. Aurizon is also Queensland Nickel's largest unpaid creditor. If Queensland Nickel was to begin its own operations, the Aurizon-owned yard would most likely be a key element for servicing and operating Queensland Nickel trains.
Based on Aurizon's operations after Clive Palmer purchased the refinery in 2009, a minimum of three 36-wagon sets and four 2000hp-3000hp locomotives will be required for the port to refinery nickel ore operations, with up to nine loaded trains running per day to shift 4-million tonnes of ore from the Jetty per annum. Additionally, if the refinery was to resume coal railings from Collinsville, another 47-wagon set and two locomotives will be needed - the refinery consuming around 400,000-tonnes of coal per annum. Additional sets and locomotives may also be needed if nickel ore production resumed at the QNI-owned 1-million tonne per annum Brolga Mine at Glen Geddes, north of Rockhampton.
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