Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, announcing the award Wednesday to India's coal trading and logistics company Adani Group and Canada's Brookfield Infrastructure Group for land for a new coal port south of MacKay, said the project is worth an estimated $10 million in investment.
Together the terminals will have export capacity of up to 180 million tons a year, which is 50 million tons more than the current capacity of the nearby Hay Point port, Bligh said in a statement.
The project will include six rail loops, eight offshore berths and expanded harbor capacity to accommodate more tug boats. Construction is to begin in 2013, generating about 5,000 jobs.
Adani recently acquired a 100 percent interest in the Galilee Coal Tenement in central Queensland, now known as the Carmichael Coal Project, considered the single largest tenement in Australia in terms of coal resources, with 7.8 million tons of coal.
Exports to India from the Galilee project are expected to start in 2015, with 60 million tons of coal forecast to be shipped annually by 2020, amounting to about 15 percent of total Australian coal exports by volume.
International Energy Agency chief economist Fatih Birol, visiting Australia this week to brief government and industry representatives on the global energy outlook, said Australia's coal exports are expected to rise by 20 percent to 300 million tons annually by 2020.
"Australia is gearing up for a massive export-focused expansion," he said.
Australia needs new port infrastructure to avoid persistent bottlenecks in exporting coal, Birol said.
In its recent Global Energy Outlook for 2011, IEA said coal has met nearly half of the increase in the world's energy demand over the last decade and it expects that figure to increase to 65 percent by 2035.
Queensland is the world's biggest exporter of coking coal, used for the production of steel.
Wednesday's announcement is part of Queensland's attempt to decongest the state's busy port and rail network, which has hampered the development of new coal mines as well as limiting royalties.
The state also recently invited bids from the world's largest mining firms to participate in the $9 billion expansion of the Abbot Point port.
However, environmentalists are opposed to the Abbot Point expansion project because of the port's proximity to the Great Reef.