The Hunter Valley Coal Chain (HVCC) is the chain of coal delivery in New South Wales, Australia from (mainly open-cut) coal mines in the Hunter Region to the Port of Newcastle and domestic coal-fired power stations in the Hunter Valley. The HVCC essentially follows the path of the Hunter River travelling south-east from the mining areas in the Hunter Valley to Newcastle.
- four in Queensland: Abbot Point, Dalrymple Bay/Hay Point, Gladstone and Brisbane; and
- two in New South Wales: the Ports of Newcastle (also known as Port Waratah) and Port Kembla.
The port of Newcastle is the world’s largest coal export port. Rising demand for coal, particularly in the Asian region has resulted in a strong increase in the volume of coal exported through the port. In 2013 port throughput was 150.5 million tonnes, up from 68 million tonnes in 2000.
Coal generally goes through the following stages between mine and port:
- The producer makes arrangements to sell coal to a buyer on certain terms.
- The coal is mined (most of the coal mines in the Hunter Valley are open cut mines, also known as open pit mines), processed, blended and stored either at a railway siding located at the mine or at a coal loading facility (used by several mines).
- The coal is then transported to the Port of Newcastle, almost exclusively by rail. Some coal is transported to the port by road, but this generally requires permission from the local council (due to the effect on roadways and other infrastructure) and is also usually more costly per tonne than rail transport.
- The coal is offloaded at the port onto stockpiles in the Port Waratah Coal Services and Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group facilities.
- Once the vessel arrives at the port, the coal is loaded onto the vessel.
- The vessel then transports the coal to its destination determined by the buyer.
In 2003 the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Logistics Team (HVCCLT) was established to improve the movement of coal from Hunter Valley mines to the port’s coal loaders and then to markets across the globe. In 2009 the Hunter Valley coal industry went through a detailed view and major restructure of the contractual arrangements for the movement of coal. As a result the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator (HVCCC) formally replaced the HVCCLT in August of 2009 and expanded to include all Hunter Valley coal chain producers and service providers.
HVCCC coordinates the resources of port operators Newcastle Port Corporation, terminal operators Port Waratah Coal Services and Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group, railway operators Aurizon, Pacific National and One Rail Australia, railway infrastructure managers Australian Rail Track Corporation and Producers.