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​BHP Billiton has approved a further US$367 million (BHP Billiton share) investment for the third stage of development of the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group’s (NCIG) coal handling facility in Newcastle, Australia.

BHP Billiton’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Hunter Valley Energy Coal Pty Ltd, is a 35.5 per cent shareholder in the holding company of the NCIG.

The port expansion project will increase total capacity at the coal terminal from 53 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to 66mtpa.

The first coal on the new ship loader is scheduled to occur in the 2014 financial year, with the terminal expected to operate at full capacity within the following 12 months.

The expansion will increase BHP Billiton’s allocation at NCIG by a further 4.6mtpa to 19.2mtpa supporting the future expansions of the Mt Arthur Coal mine, located approximately five kilometres south of Muswellbrook in the Upper Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Australia.

BHP Billiton Energy Coal President, Jimmy Wilson, said “We are steadily growing the Mt Arthur Mine and evaluating the development of Caroona. This port expansion underpins the future of these two sites.”

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