A week after the first load of coal arrives at the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal, dozers and trucks begin to move the coal to bed down the stockyard.

Photo Mara Pattison-Sowden / The Observer
A week after the first load of coal arrives at the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal, dozers and trucks begin to move the coal to bed down the stockyard. Photo Mara Pattison-Sowden / The Observer Mara Pattison-Sowden

WICET's $3.5b debt casts 'significant doubt' on its future

WIGGINS Island Coal Export Terminal has admitted there is "significant doubt" in its ability to remain viable if it does not find a solution for its $3.5 billion debt.

Glencore and the four other remaining owners of WICET need to repay or restructure the debt within nine months.

Bids to restructure the debt with 19 lenders have been unsuccessful so far, and the company said in its annual statement if a solution was not found it had "material uncertainty" in its ability to continue operating at a profit.

The company, which employs about 90 people, lost its third original owner this year - Caledon Coal - leaving the five remaining in a tougher position.

Market Forces, which put WICET at the top of its "10 dodgy fossil fuel deals hurting the banks", said lenders were asked to take a 30 per cent "hit" in a restructure deal proposed by Glencore.

One of the main factors Caledon Coal claimed led to its demise was the terminal charges at WICET.

This year income from the charges more than doubled to $381.6 million.

Regardless of if miners export their full contracted capacity, they are required to pay the charges.

The expensive port charges is something Aurizon addressed when it announced its $4 billion bid for the facility, believed to also involve Macquarie Group and Canadian investor Brookfield.

The bid, still in its early stages, includes the coal terminal and some of the mines that export through the terminal.

Meanwhile WICET's comprehensive income for the year was $3.1 million and as at September 30 the company had $249 million in cash available.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission filed documents showed WICET's total liabilities of $4,873,730,000 were higher than its total assets of $3.815,641,000.

Of the 19 lenders ANZ is most heavily exposed, having provided $417 million in project finance in 2011. Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and NAB each provided $164 million.

The Gladstone-based facility is owned by a consortium including Glencore, Yancoal, Wesfarmers, New Hope and Aquila



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