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A new era for Queensland coal exports has begun with the opening of a rail link that will unlock a further 50 million tonnes each year.
Acting Premier Andrew Fraser on Monday opened the Goonyella to Abbot Point rail link, north of Moranbah in central Queensland.
Known as the "northern missing link", the 69-kilometre line increases the capacity of Queensland's coal exports by 50 million tonnes a year through the Abbot Point port by bridging the gap between the Goonyella and Newlands rail systems.
Mr Fraser congratulated the formerly government-owned operator, QR National, and its partners for delivering the $1.1 billion, 20-month project under budget and ahead of schedule, despite the catastrophic January floods.
"Now that QR National is a publicly listed company it has the ability to make this type of investment that benefits all Queenslanders, without taxpayers having to foot the bill," he said.
QR National chairman John Prescott said that, in combination with the company's other expansions, the link provided an extra 70 million tonnes of rail capacity over the next three years.
"This means QR National's central Queensland coal network will have the capacity to move more than 300 million tonnes of coal per annum by 2015," Mr Prescott said.
The government is also responding to private-sector demand with a planned super-expansion of the Abbot Point port.
With a total of nine proposed terminals, it will be one of the world's largest export hubs.
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