Coal mining plays a major role in the Australian economy. Ten percent of all coal deposits worldwide are ‘down under,’ making Australia the biggest coal exporter.

Large deposits are found in the state of New South Wales, where the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG) is based. It operates one of the most important export terminals at the port of Newcastle. A complex infrastructure is required to ship the coal from there to destinations all over the world.

For the NCIG transport system, the ContiTech Conveyor Belt Group has produced and supplied several steel cord belts in recent years, helping to set-up a total of three platforms.

After completion of the third terminal at the end of 2013, NCIG’s transport system will be capable of delivering around 66 million metric tonnes (Mmt) of coal a year. A total of 20 conveyor belts are used to handle incoming and out-going coal, as well as for interim storage on the platform. They make for handling capacities of 8,500mt an hour in the loading stations and storage areas, with that figure rising to as much as 10,500mt an hour in the wharf and ship loader area.

National Sales Manager at ContiTech Australia Eric Van Leeuwarden: "Thanks to their robust and durable design, steel cord belts from ContiTech are up to meeting the challenges of transporting coal within a coal terminal.

"In addition, our conveyor belts represent energy-saving solutions that significantly reduce transport costs and thus help to improve the cost efficiency of the system."

Via the project company Aurecon Hatch, NCIG awarded ContiTech Australia (formerly M.I.R.S.), the order to set up the first platform in 2008. The Conveyor Belt Group in Northeim produced an approximate length of 10,000m of ST 1400 steel cord belt with a width of 2,500mm. It is made of an energy-saving rubber compound that has made it possible to significantly improve visco-elastic properties, thereby minimising indentation rolling resistance on the conveyor belt system.

As a result, energy consumption during transport can be lowered by up to 25%, allowing for a reduction in energy costs and CO2 emissions overall. ContiTech additionally produced 280m of type ST2500 steel cord belting for this stage of the project. It is used to transport the coal onto the freight ships. In order to ensure that the individually delivered sectional lengths were correctly spliced on-site to form a conveyor belt, ContiTech arranged a training course at ContiTech in Northeim in 2009. At it, the Australian installation partner received instruction as to the correct procedures for splicing the sections.

"By doing this, we were able to ensure the best possible outcome," Van Leeuwarden added.

In the spring of 2010, an order then came in to set-up the second platform. A further 8,000m of steel cord belting of the same belt types were used here. To help the team connect the individual conveyor belt lengths, ContiTech service staff members were on hand locally to set up the required vulcanisation presses and further optimise the process. In 2012, thanks to the successful implementation of the first two subprojects, M.I.R.S. and the ContiTech Conveyor Belt Group also received the order for the third and final stage of the project, another 8,000m-long steel cord belt, which was delivered in several stages by September 2012.

"Thanks to the close global cooperation with the experts from ContiTech, we have been able to perfectly monitor and accompany the construction of the transport terminal in Newcastle during the last four years," said Van Leeuwarden.

"This project has further strengthened our position in Australia and is an important reference project on this market."