Rail strike impacts 500,000 mt coal exports from Australia's Newcastle port
Perth (Platts)--11Feb2013/507 am EST/1007 GMT
A weekend strike by train workers caused the cancellation of about
500,000 mt of coal railings to Newcastle port in the Australian state of New
South Wales, Port Waratah Coal Services said Monday.
"The impact across the coal chain was about 500,000 mt and we had about
four-fifths of that," PWCS spokesman Paul Chamberlin said by telephone. PWCS
operates two of the three coal terminals at Newcastle port.
Train operator Pacific National's Australian parent company Asciano had
forecast Friday that the 48-hour strike by its unionized workers on the two
busiest days of the week could disrupt 600,000 mt of coal railings.
The strike ended as planned at midday Sunday.
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The third port terminal, operated by Newcastle Coal Infrastructure
Group, has a larger capacity to stockpile coal exports.
"We maintain our stockpiles as part of our standard practice and our
ship-loading operations carried on as normal [during the strike]," a NCIG
spokesman said Monday. NCIG, which is operated by coal producers BHP
Billiton, Centennial Coal, Peabody Energy, Whitehaven Coal and Yancoal
Australia, declined to disclose the volume of its coal stockpiles at the port.
Combined coal stocks at PWCS' terminals had shrunk to 635,000 mt Sunday
from 1 million mt a week earlier, Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator data
The impact on railings to Port Kembla coal terminal, the fourth-largest
in New South Wales located 150 miles south of Newcastle, was uncertain.
Calls to the port's operator were not returned. The port on its website
said it had received 27,000 mt of coal by rail in the preceding 24 hours, and
that its stocks for shiploading stood at 185,000 mt Sunday, lower than its
optimal stockpile capacity of 600,000 mt.
New South Wales coal producers had expected to rail 2.72 million mt of
coal cargo to Newcastle in the seven days to Sunday, the HVCCC said in a
report released Monday.
"Planned rates [of coal delivery] were 439,000 mt below target, while
actual inbound performance was 317,000 mt below the HVCCC declared inbound
throughput," said the HVCCC, which receives coal from 40 mines in the state.
Both figures were for the full week including the 48-hour strike period.
A spokeswoman for Pacific National's parent Asciano confirmed Monday the
striking staff had returned to work as planned at midday Sunday.
"We are focused now on getting our train services back to normal," she
said, adding the company had not been advised of any further industrial
action by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union.
Union officials did not respond Monday to Platts inquiries.
The union had last week said its members were seeking a 7-9% pay rise
over the life of a new three-year workplace agreement.
OTHER TRAIN OPERATORS NOT AFFECTED
A spokesman for Australian Rail Track Corp., the operator of the Hunter
Valley railway for coal exports in New South Wales, said Monday it had
managed the network's requirements for coal haulage as best it could over the
weekend, and that services by other coal train operators had operated
In fact, shiploading volumes for coal through Newcastle port rose 22.8%
to a four-week high of 2.96 million mt in the seven-day period to 7 am
Australian Eastern Daylight Time Monday (2000 GMT Sunday), from 2.41 million
mt a week earlier, Newcastle Port Corp. in a weekly report Monday.
PWCS' terminals shipped 2.3 million mt of coal exports in the period,
compared with 1.77 million mt the week before, HVCCC in its report Sunday.
--Mike Cooper, email@example.com
--Edited by Wendy Wells, firstname.lastname@example.org