The arrangement would see Aurizon operate and jointly manage with GVK the rail infrastructure and to exclusively provide above rail haulage from GVK Hancock’s Alpha and Kevin’s Corner mines for up to 60mtpa of coal. Aurizon and GVK Hancock would also jointly determine the optimum rail solution that may include a combination of GVK Hancock’s rail project and Aurizon’s Central Queensland Integrated Rail Project (CQIRP) that would ultimately connect with the proposed T3 coal terminal at Abbot Point. As part of Aurizon’s development process, identifying key design parameters for the Abbot Point T3 coal export terminal was of paramount importance to achieve desired throughput. If the design parameters were underestimated it would limit the port’s flexibility in responding to variations in ore supply and demand, resulting in lost revenue and potentially contractual penalties. In contrast, over estimating might result in wasted capital and increased operational costs. To mitigate these inherent risks, and determine optimal rates and capacities, a detailed terminal model was required.

Advisian’s role

Aurizon engaged Advisian to develop a discrete event simulation model of the proposed Abbot Point T3 coal terminal. Advisian applied its industry expertise in developing the model to incorporate realistic operational aspects including:
• shipping stem and train scheduling
• stockyard management regime, such as cargo assembly or allocated stockpiles
• breakdowns, weather and environmental impacts

The model, developed over a period of only six weeks, included a real-time 3D animation of the port’s facilities to communicate the terminal operation under different scenarios to Aurizon’s Board of Directors. Advisian extended the terminal model to incorporate the rail network from train load-out at the mines to unloading at the port, including maintenance and provisioning of the rolling stock.

The extended model enabled the determination of the capacity of the system to identify the best allocation of capital expenditure (to rail infrastructure, rolling stock or port infrastructure) to maximise system throughput rather than terminal throughput. 


Advisian worked closely with Aurizon throughout the assignment to ensure timely delivery of a sophisticated model which contained the desired functionality and visual appeal. Aurizon’s management has successfully used the model to:

  • determine the expected throughput of the proposed port
  • identify system constraints
  • test expansion scenarios to determine the incremental benefit in throughput from the addition of port equipment and rail network infrastructure
  • analyse the impact of capital spend under different operating regimes • identify improvements in the concept design and inform the next stage of design development
  • determine the port design parameters (such as stockpile capacity and ship loading rates) which are required to meet the required 60 mtpa throughput.

 Develop a sophisticated, discrete event simulation model of the proposed Abbot Point T3 coal terminal