Aurizon, the company formerly known as QR National, says it has won a new coal haulage contract with Whitehaven Coal.
The new 12-year contract was to transport up to 16 million tonnes of coal a year from the Gunnedah Basin in NSW to the Port of Newcastle, Aurizon said in a statement released after the market closed on Friday.
Aurizon said it would spend $280 million to support a new fleet of trains.
Coal would be transported from four sites - Narrabri, Gunnedah, Werris Creek and Maules Creek, which was due to start producing coal in 2014.
Aurizon chief executive Lance Hockridge said the contract with Whitehaven added competition and increased performance pressure in the Gunnedah Basin market, which previously had only one operator.
"In both NSW and Queensland, we've proven we can expand capacity to match our customers growing operations," Mr Hockridge said in a statement.
"We intend to leverage our experience and performance in the Hunter Valley supply chain to maximise coal throughput for Whitehaven."
Whitehaven said the contract supplemented the miner's existing haulage arrangements and would be brought online progressively to meet its growth requirements.
"This new agreement with Aurizon provides us with both the scale and flexibility we require to ensure the best outcome for our existing mines and the new projects we have scheduled to bring into production," Whitehaven managing director Tony Haggarty said.
In 2009, Whitehaven signed a long-term coal haulage contract with Asciano for Narrabri, Werris Creek and Gunnedah loadpoints.
Aurizon closed down two cents at $3.78, while Whitehaven finished two cents firmer at $3.53.
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