Abbot Point.
Abbot Point.

Report: Queensland ports only working at 65% capacity

EXTRA capacity at Queensland ports and depressed global demand for coal could nullify the need for more port expansions, new research from the Centre for Policy Development has found.

The research analysed coal export forecasts from the federal government, global demand figures from Goldman Sachs and past production.

Report author Laura Eadie said the research had found Queensland's existing ports are only operating at 65% of total capacity, with enough room for existing industry growth out to 2020.

She said on current global demand, there was "no need for new ports", saying the only new capacity that might be needed was at Wiggins Island and Abbot Point.

Ms Eadie said falling demand from China for coal would mean new mines in the Galilee, and the associated port export, may no longer be viable.

She said there would a "shake-out" of proposed coal mines that could be viable, but a cap on Chinese consumption may prevent some giant mines.

"The risk is more development will lead to stranded assets. This will be a problem for Queensland's government, not just the private sector, if we see cuts to jobs and lost government revenues," she said.

But the Queensland Resources Council disputed the report, with chief executive Michael Roche saying the figures used were during recent floods when many mines were off-line.

He said the paper reads as though "ports are likely to be expanded", despite proposed expansions being backed by private firms which will make decision based on the market.

"They will determine if it is in their long-term interests to secure long term port capacity as part of their investment decision processes," he said.

"If it makes economic sense, and investment hurdle rates are surpassed, and there is alignment of like minded producers, investment could occur."