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AURIZON is seeking the green light for a rail link to the Galilee Basin’s huge coal reserves that will be up to $1 billion cheaper than the one planned by Indian mining giant Adani.
The Brisbane-based rail company yesterday submitted plans to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) for funding for the railway to link Abbot Point with the coal reserves in the basin.
Adani applied to NAIF last year to build the 310km railway to its Carmichael megamine, sparking a political storm about taxpayers subsidising the operations of a company owned by an Indian billionaire.
The Aurizon proposal will be cheaper because it will combine existing rail lines with new ones, compared with Adani, which wants to build a largely new network costing $2.4 billion.
Aurizon is banking on its proposal not only being cheaper but more politically palatable, given it is an Australian company.
Aurizon also expects its experience in running one of the country’s biggest rail networks will put it ahead of Adani’s proposal.
Both proposals are expected to face a rigorous assessment process by the NAIF.
The facility is offering up to $5 billion over five years in low-interest, long-term loans covering up to half the cost of development projects in northern Australia – specifically infrastructure developments including airports, communications, energy, ports, rail and dams.
The rest of the funding must be raised from private sources.
A spokesman for the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan, said yesterday that all applications to NAIF were assessed by an independent, skills-based board, which completed thorough due diligence on each project.
This article first appeared on www.couriermail.com.au
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