Australian Newcastle coal shipments surge 1 mil mt on week despite rail outage
Perth (Platts)--4Dec2012/414 am EST/914 GMT
Coal shipments from Australia's Newcastle port surged 55% to 2.79
million in the seven days to Monday despite a train derailment on a
connecting rail line, data released by Newcastle Port Corp. showed Tuesday.
Maintenance on the same track in mid-November had depressed coal
shipments from the port to 1.79 million mt in the week ended November 26, NPC
in an earlier report.
Thirty-three ships berthed at Newcastle during the port's latest
seven-day reporting period, up from 20 the preceding week, reflecting the
upturn in coal exports from the port.
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A Pacific National-operated coal train derailed on a bridge on the upper
branch of the Hunter Valley railway, near Boggabri in the Gunnedah coal
field, last Wednesday, and the track's operator began repairing the rails
Monday after the last wagon was removed from the site, Australian Rail Track
Corporation said in a statement. The damaged section of track remains closed.
Major regional producer Whitehaven Coal said in a statement Tuesday that
it had been notified by ARTC that it would take up to two weeks to complete
In the meantime, Whitehaven said it was mulling alternative transport
options such as trucking to minimize the impact on its coal shipments.
A total of 10.8 million mt of coal was shipped by Newcastle's three
export coal terminals in November, according to NPC data.
The two Port Waratah Coal Services terminals at Newcastle port shipped
7.8 million mt of coal in the month, missing their monthly target by 420,000
mt, the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator said in a report Sunday.
The balance of shipments, around 3 million mt, would have come from the
Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group terminal, which is moving into its second
expansion phase that will extend its shipping capacity to 66 million mt/year
by late 2013.
PWCS VESSEL QUEUE SHOWS SIGNS OF RECOVERY
The vessel queue for the PWCS terminals is starting to recover after
shrinking to as few as four ships in mid-November, with 23 waiting to load
coal at PWCS terminals Monday, according to HVCCC's website.
The number of ships in the queue is expected to hit 30 in the next week,
then stabilize at 25-30 by the end of December, HVCCC said.
"The PWCS queue is estimated to be around 27 [ships] at the end of
December," HVCCC said in its report.
Coal producers that use the PWCS facility are forecasting a strong
export performance of 10.2 million mt for December, up from 7.8 million mt
in November, the HVCCC report said.
NCIG does not provide vessel queuing data for its terminal. Traders say
vessel waiting times at the facility are currently quite low as it has 4.4
million mt of stockpile capacity for coal exports.
In contrast, the PWCS facilities have a more limited stockpile capacity
of about 2 million mt, so ships have to queue while cargoes are assembled at
mine sites and transported to port, traders said.
Another measure of demand for coal exports is provided by Newcastle Port
Corp., which counts the number of ships steaming towards the port's three
coal terminals with a notified arrival time.
Fifty ships held a notified arrival slot for Newcastle port on Monday,
meaning they were sailing towards the port and had been allocated a berthing
spot within the next seven days. A week earlier on November 26, there were 67
ships sailing towards Newcastle port with arrival slots.
--Mike Cooper, email@example.com
--Edited by Wendy Wells, firstname.lastname@example.org