The Eagle Downs coking coal project is a joint venture between Aquila Resources Ltd and Brazilian mining giant Vale's subsidiary Bowen Central Coal. Aquila and Vale are already 50:50 partners in a producing mine in the Bowen Basin, the Isaac Plains coking and thermal coal operation.
However the two partners have been finding it difficult to reach common ground to work together over Eagle Downs and the latest disagreement concerns the wording of a condition for a feasibility study. Another fight appears to be looming over another Bowen Basin coal joint venture, Belvedere.
Eagle Downs is a planned long-life mine of 40 years-plus, with production expected from 2013 and ramp up to the first stage output of 4.6 million tonnes a year in 2015 and rising to 8mtpa. The capital cost, excluding rail and port, is around $1 billion.
What Aquila and Vale are unable to agree on is which port is right to ship the coal out of. Vale favours Dalrymple Bay; Aquila favours Abbot Point. Both suffer capacity constraints, particularly Dalrymple Bay.
This latest dispute erupted when Aquila wanted a feasibility study completed before approving the 2010-11 budget for the Eagle Downs joint venture.