PERTH/SYDNEY, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Coal export terminals
showed signs of recovery on Wednesday as Australia begins a
clean-up process from massive flood damages that could take
months and has undermined consumer confidence in the $1.3
trillion economy highly dependent on commodity exports. Flooding blamed on rains triggered by a La Nina Pacific weather pattern has devastated huge areas of the eastern seaboard, killing 25 people and causing thousands to be evacuated, while destroying crops and crippling Australia's A$50 billion coal industry and causing coal price spikes. Risks also remain for more wild weather. Australia's weather bureau issued weather warnings on Wednesday for areas of southeast and south central Queensland, including Gladstone, the location of one of the state's major coal export terminals. "Severe thunderstorms are likely to produce damaging winds, very heavy rainfall and flash flooding," the bureau said. In a sign of some improvements, Queensland's coal mines are now operating at full permanent staffing levels and the state's two largest coal export terminals said shipments were set to increase as coal rail haulage lines and mines return to normal. "With the Moura rail line open and the Dawson, Callide and Boundary Hill mines railing coal, the port of Gladstone can now start ramping up export capacity," Gladstone Ports Corporation Chief Executive Leo Zussino said in a statement. But there were signs that the coal industry will only make a slow comeback, with Gladstone Port, Queensland's second largest coal export port, saying it would take until the end of March for exports to return to normal. Australia's consumer sentiment has also taken a hit as wall-to-wall media coverage of the floods raised anxieties. Consumer sentiment fell 5.7 percent in January, the biggest fall in about six months, according to a Westpac-Melbourne Institute report. "There is no doubt that the sharp slide in consumer sentiment is almost wholly due to the flood disaster across the nation," Savanth Sebastian, an economist at Commonwealth Securities in Sydney said in a note. Australia, the world's largest coal exporter, accounts for about two-thirds of global coking coal trade, with around 90 percent of that coming from Queensland state. Coking or metallurgical coal is used for steelmaking. The Queensland Resources Council has estimated that only 15 percent of the 57 coal mines are fully operational, 60 percent are operating under restrictions and another 25 percent have yet to restart production. Damage to the industry estimated at A$2.3 billion. Global miners Rio Tinto , BHP Billiton and Xstrata are among major companies involved in coal mining in Queensland. Australian coal-to-retail conglomerate Wesfarmers expects flooding in Queensland state to significantly reduce output at its Curragh coal mine, the firm said on Wednesday. Wesfarmers was one of several companies to declare force majeure after extensive rains in December and January shut most of the region's coal mines. With many mines inundated with floodwaters, Queensland has granted temporary permission to 20 coal mines to pump out excess floodwater and is considering applications from another 16 mines, the state's Department of Environmental and Resource Management said Tuesday. FLOOD MISERY The Australian Industry Group, a business lobby, said the wild summer weather, and a rebuilding estimated to last years and to cost between A$5 billion-A$20 billion, should now prompt the government to rethink a planned 2012-13 return to budget surplus. "We can try and get into surplus by a few dollars in 2013, or we can do what's required now, in the next 12 months, to try and help businesses, and preserve jobs," AIG Chief Executive Heather Ridout told Australian radio. Prime Minister Julia Gillard told reporters in Brisbane that the government would both rebuild and retain the surplus target. The construction industry said it was still counting the cost of rebuilding. "You're more than a month off having an accurate number. They just literally need to be able to visually inspect hundreds of kilometres of tracks, test rails and bridges,..and inspect buildings," said Peter Barda, executive director of the Australian Construction Industry Forum. "The other great unknown will be not just the scope of the work but the prices. There will be skills shortages, materials shortages, so its likely prices will be higher," he said, declining to give any ballpark figure. The flood misery went on in some areas and thousands of people in the Victorian town of Kerang were forced overnight to flee across the state border into New South Wales, also hard hit by flooding, after a major levee bank sprung a leak. Dozens of cities and towns across Victoria remain under threat from flooding in the wake of record rainfall last week, with residents at Warracknabeal also concerned about the strength of protective levees on Yarriambiack Creek. In Queensland, residents in the rural city of Toowoomba, which was hit by devastating flash floods last week, buried a mother and son on Wednesday. The two had been swept from the roof of their car in the central business district when their rescue rope snapped. (Additional reporting by Rob Taylor in CANBERRA and Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Editing by Ed Davies)
PERTH, Jan 18 (Reuters) – Major Japanese utilities may be
forced to pay nearly 50 percent more than a year ago for their
largest annual thermal coal contracts as floods in Queensland
push prices higher, according to an analyst report released
The price for the key Japanese fiscal year thermal coal
contract could settle at $145 per tonne, up from $98 per tonne
for the same contract last year, Macquarie Research said in the
SYDNEY/PERTH, Jan 18 (Reuters) – Only 15 percent of the 57
coal mines in Australia’s Queensland state are fully operational
after devastating floods, with damage to the industry estimated
at A$2.3 billion ($2.3 billion), an industry body said on
Australia accounts for about two-thirds of global coking
coal trade, with around 90 percent of that coming from
Queensland, and the disruptions have pushed global prices
sharply higher as buyers scramble for alternative supplies.
SYDNEY (Reuters) – A tropical cyclone forced five mines in New Caledonia producing 4 percent of the world’s nickel to shut on Friday, while flooding in Australia shut in millions of metric tons in coal and aluminum exports.
Severe weather is raising the cost of raw materials, potentially fuelling inflation in the industrial heartlands of Asia, which rely on the commodities to produce steel, generate power and make everything from bathroom fixtures to airplanes.
PERTH, Jan 13 (Reuters) – Australia’s thermal coal prices,
a benchmark for Asia, hovered near $140 per tonne as prices
continued to be supported by flooding in coal-producing
Thermal coal on the globalCOAL Newcastle index for the
week to date was $138.58 per tonne on Wednesday, up from
$129.50 a week earlier as the impacts of the flooding
SYDNEY/PERTH (Reuters) – Australia’s devastating floods could remove over 5 percent of steelmaking coal from world markets this year and lift prices by a third or more, analysts estimated on Wednesday, as damage and disruption to coal infrastructure continue to spread.
Australia’s Bowen Basin coal district, the heart of the coking coal industry in Queensland state, is slowly emerging from floods that have since raced south, but recovery has been slow, with one Queensland coal port closed and two restricted.
SYDNEY/PERTH, Jan 11 (Reuters) – Australia’s
flood-stricken coal sector suffered more setbacks on Tuesday
as monsoon rains flooded out another rail line and forced more
collieries to close.
New Hope Corp — until now untouched by the
flooding that affected the operations of more than 40 coal
mines further north — suspended all operations on Tuesday as
the rains transformed southeastern districts into inland seas,
shutting another 6 million tonnes of thermal coal capacity.
PERTH (Reuters) – Flooding in Australia’s northeast has hit the country’s $50 billion coal mining sector hard, paralysing much of the coal industry in Queensland, which produces over half of the country’s coal.
Below are a few facts about how the coal industry has been impacted:
WHAT KIND OF COAL IS AFFECTED BY THE FLOODS?
Queensland, Australia’s largest coal producing state, produces mostly coking or metallurgical coal used for steelmaking, but it also produces some thermal coal, which is used for power generation.
PERTH, Jan 6 (Reuters) – Australia’s $50 billion coal export
industry is likely to take months to recover fully as miners
face torrential rains and flooding that have nearly halted coal
production and infrastructure, a Reuters snap survey showed.
In the survey of industry analysts on Thursday, most said it
would take a month or more for Australia’s coal industry, which
contributes two-thirds of global coking-coal exports needed to
make steel, to return to pre-flood levels.
ROCKHAMPTON/PERTH, Australia, Jan 6 (Reuters) –
Australia’s flood-stricken coal industry faced lengthy
disruptions on Thursday, with one miner saying it could take
weeks to drain its pits of water and a major port suspending
export shipments because of a lack of coal.
Floods have swamped mines in Queensland state, paralysing
operations that produce 35 percent of Australia’s estimated
259 million tonnes of exportable coal. Australia contributes
two-thirds of global coking-coal exports, needed to make steel.