Australia's Gladstone port sees surge in vessels waiting amid coal supply disruption
Perth (Platts)--5Feb2013/533 am EST/1033 GMT
The number of vessels waiting offshore Australia's Gladstone Port has
blown out to 40 Tuesday, as two rail lines that supply the port with coal
cargoes remained out of action 10 days after heavy rainfall swept Queensland
state, data on Gladstone Ports Corp's website showed.
Only two of Gladstone port's five berths for coal ships were occupied at
5:00 pm Brisbane time Tuesday (0700 GMT), the port authority's website showed.
Coal was available for loading for only one of two ships berthed at the
four-berth RG Tanna terminal, and one ship was waiting for cargo to be
assembled at the port's single berth Barney Point terminal, said the website.
There were 40 ships waiting off the port Tuesday, most of which were
coal carriers, said the website. On January 11, the number of ships waiting
was just 20, according to a freight market report.
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Ships were having to queue, as the Blackwater and Moura rail systems
that feed coal exports into Gladstone remained shut after closing down on
January 25-26, preventing coal cargoes from reaching the port.
"The port reopened last week, however, some coal is not coming out [of
mines] and deliveries are not happening for some ships," said Kieran Moran, a
spokesman for Gladstone Ports Corp.
Heavy rainfall associated with cyclone Oswald which passed through
Queensland 10 days ago, had led to another problem -- saturated coal
stockpiles at the port.
"Coal was quite wet and had to be dried out before it could be loaded on
to ships," the spokesman added.
Coal stocks at Gladstone port are likely to have fallen significantly
with the temporary closure of its rail lines, but GPC did not provide any
Gladstone port shipped 57.7 million mt of coal in 2012, with China,
India and Japan the top destinations for ships loading coal cargo at the port.
Queensland railway company Aurizon said in a statement Monday that its
Blackwater line will reopen to trains by Friday, though its smaller Moura
network will take longer to resume normal service, and will reopen in stages
over February 18-25.
COCKATOO COAL, IDEMITSU
Cockatoo Coal's Baralaba mine for PCI coal which sits at the end of the
228-km Moura rail system has been stockpiling coal exports while the
Australian-listed company waits for the line to reopen, Cockatoo Coal's
general manager investor relations, Greg Germon, said Tuesday.
"There has been no flooding at Baralaba mine, though there was some
puddling at deeper parts of the pits which took two to three days to pump
out, and the mine was back in production at the weekend," he said.
"We are stockpiling coal at the mine in readiness for pushing it down to
the RG Tanna coal terminal as soon as the Moura rail line reopens," said
Cockatoo Coal declined to say how many of its customers had ships
waiting for its coal exports at Gladstone port, though Germon said Cockatoo
Coal's shipments typically comprise relatively small 20,000-mt cargoes.
Baralaba mine's production of PCI coal is 750,000 mt/year currently and
its run rate is to increase to 950,000 mt/year later this year, said Germon.
He added that the price of Australian PCI coal on the spot market had
increased by $20/mt since the flooding in Queensland nearly two weeks ago to
$140/mt FOB basis.
Idemitsu Australia Resources said in a statement Tuesday, that last
week's cyclone-related rainfall had "not significantly impacted production"
at the company's 7 million mt/year Ensham mine for thermal coal which
utilizes the Blackwater rail system to Gladstone port.
Only 75 mm of rainfall was recorded at the Ensham mine site in central
Queensland over January 23-26, but significant rainfall did impact the mine's
rail infrastructure "which has caused some minor delays to Ensham's ability
to transport coal from the mine to the port," it said.
Idemitsu declined to reveal the quantity of its delayed Ensham coal
shipments, or whether its customers had any ships waiting to load its coal
exports at Gladstone port.
Another coal producer, Yancoal Australia said in a statement Friday to
the Australian Securities Exchange that it had declared force majeure on
several coal sales contracts for its Yarrabee mine which is also connected to
the Blackwater railway, again because of the recent wet weather.
Xstrata's Rolleston, Rio Tinto's Kestrel and Wesfarmers' Curragh are
some of the other mines alongside the Blackwater rail line that have been
affected by the disruption in rail network, according to the companies and
--Mike Cooper, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Haripriya Banerjee, email@example.com