ACCC: Glencore Asks for Arbitration on Dispute with Newcastle Port

Sydney-based mining company Glencore Coal Assets Australia (Glencore) has called for an arbitration to settle an access dispute with Port of Newcastle Operations (PNO) in relation to the shipping channel service at the port, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Glencore requested that the ACCC arbitrate on the dispute, which relates to the level of access charges, and access terms, set by PNO for users of the shipping channel service at the port, which was declared under Part IIIA of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) by the Australian Competition Tribunal in June 2016.

The declared shipping channel service is “the provision of the right of access and use of the shipping channel (including berths next to walls as part of the channel) at the port, by virtue of which vessels may enter the port precinct and load and unload at relevant terminals located within the port precinct and then depart the port precinct.”

“An ACCC arbitration would seek to identify a solution that balances the interests of both parties and promotes the economically efficient use and operation of these services,” Rod Sims, ACCC Chairman, said.

Sims added that the ACCC’s role to arbitrate under Part IIIA only applies to declared services. As the declaration of the shipping channel service is currently the subject of an application for judicial review by the Full Federal Court, Sims said that “if that challenge is successful, the arbitration process will stop.”

The ACCC must make a final determination within 180 days from the day a dispute notification is received.

In May 2015, Glencore applied to have the shipping channel service at the Port of Newcastle declared. In January 2016, the Minister decided not to declare the service and Glencore applied for review of this decision by the Australian Competition Tribunal. The Tribunal declared the shipping channel service under Part IIIA of the CCA in June 2016.

PNO subsequently applied for judicial review of the Tribunal’s decision by the Full Federal Court.

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