(EnergyAsia, December 12 2012, Wednesday) — Rail operator Aurizon said it has secured a contract from Rio Tinto Coal Australia (RTCA) to haul coal from its Clermont mine to the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal (DBCT), both in Queensland state.

Under the new 10-year contract which replaces an existing one due to expire in June 2013, Aurizon will haul up to 12 million tonnes of coal a year from next July. Aurizon, formerly known as QR National, signed the earlier deal in 2004.

The new contract supports RTCA’s significant investment in expanding its Clermont thermal coal mine in central Queensland, and leverages Aurizon’s substantial assets in the Goonyella rail system and recently announced plans to invest A$130 million to develop a train fuelling and maintenance facility at Hexam to support expansion at the Hunter coal mine.

Aurizon managing director and CEO Lance Hockridge said:

“We’re pleased to support Rio Tinto’s ramp up of Clermont Mine which opened in 2010 and extending its long term presence in the Queensland coal business. This is a large-volume, high-performance, flexible contract that underlines the confidence in Aurizon’s ability to deliver on commitments to customers.”

Aurizon is Australia’s largest rail freight company with services operating across five states, including the 2,670-km Central Queensland network that links mines to coal ports at Bowen, Mackay and Gladstone.

Last year, the ASX-listed company transported more than 250 million tonnes of freight, including coal, iron ore, other minerals, agricultural products and general freight.