Logistics, Ports & Terminals, Mining and Heavy Industries

Glencore wins case over Newcastle port regulation

Coal ships loading at Newcastle. Photo: Southern Cross Maritime

Mining giant Glencore has successfully had the ACCC installed to regulate port fees at Newcastle, after the port’s private operator failed in a final bid for a review into the move.

The High Court on Friday rejected the Port of Newcastle’s application for a review of decisions to have the Australian Consumer & Competition Authority regulate the fees it is allowed to charge exporters.

Glencore, which exports coal from its Hunter mines out of Newcastle, has accused the operator, Port of Newcastle, of price gouging.

Port of Newcastle is a private, 50/50 joint venture of The Infrastructure Fund and China Merchants Group, which bought the port via a long-term lease from the NSW Government in 2014.

The Friday decision is being considered a win for mining and agriculture producers, as it reaffirms the need for the ACCC to be allowed to regulate monopoly infrastructure assets.

“This is good news for all NSW coal exporters as it helps maintain our industry’s international competitiveness and justifies Glencore’s determination to ensure that monopoly export infrastructure is subject to regulatory constraint,” Glencore was quoted by multiple sources.

Port of Newcastle lifted fees for shipping channel access by roughly 40% on average, within months of the sale in 2014. The company paid $1.75 billion for the 98-year lease of the port, 27 times its annual earnings at the time.

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