A group of Queensland coal producers under the Queensland Coal Industry Rail Group (QCIRG) have made a joint $4bn bid for a rail network in the hope of acquiring it before it goes to public offer.
QCIRG, a 13-member group, includes major miners such as Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Xstrata, Anglo American, Peabody Energy, Yanzhou Coal, Vale and Macarthur Coal.
Queensland Coal Industry Rail Group chairman Nick Greiner said the fully funded offer represents a substantial premium to what is likely to be achieved under the government's proposed listing plan.
Greiner said coal producers are natural owners of the railroad assets and would be able to invest more in the maintenance and expansion of the infrastructure.
The Australian Rail Track Corp, which runs rail operations of the Hunter Valley coal network in New South Wales, will manage the rail network if the consortium takes it over. It also plans to participate in the project as an equity owner.
The $4bn bid covers four track systems in the central Queensland network and an expansion project.
The Queensland Government is selling its state-owned railway, port and forestry assets in a bid to raise A$15bn ($12.3bn) to reduce its budget deficit.