(EnergyAsia, December 30 2011, Friday) — Australian coal haulage firm QR National said it has signed a 10-year contract with Rio Tinto to haul three million tonnes of coal a year starting next month.

It will provide the services from Rio Tinto’s Blair Athol/ Clermont mines to the Abbot Point Coal Terminal (APCT), both located within Queensland state.

QR National said it will leverage its recent A$1.1 billion expansion and upgrade of its national network connecting Goonyella to Abbot Point (GAP), was officially opened last month by Acting Premier Andrew Fraser and QR National Chairman John Prescott. (US$1=A$0.96).

The new long-term contract is the second secured by QR National for coal haulage via the new GAP infrastructure, following an announcement in February 2011 of a 10-year contract with Jellinbah Resources to haul up to six million tonnes/year of coal from the Lake Vermont mine to APCT.

QR National’s managing director and CEO, Lance Hockridge, said:

“We have a strong relationship with Rio Tinto Coal at both the commercial and operational levels and this contract enables us to build on that with a high performance, take or pay contract.”

QR National is Australia’s largest rail freight company with services operating across five states. For financial year 2010/11, it transported more than 240 million tonnes of freight, including coal, iron ore, other minerals, agricultural products and general freight. It also operates and manages the 2,300-km Central Queensland coal network that links mines to coal ports at Bowen, Mackay and Gladstone.