* Key Blackwater coal rail line in Australia impacted by
* Operator Aurizon says 2nd Moura line will take up to Feb
25 to be fully repaired
* Wood Mackenzie forecast 1-week loss from coal mines at 1.5
By James Regan
SYDNEY, Feb 4 The key Blackwater coal haulage
line in Australia is expected to reopen by the end of this week
after flooding caused it to shut down, halting shipments from
major collieries, including Rio Tinto and Xstrata
Torrential rains and flooding in late January, in a region
producing about half of the world's coking coal, cut rail
haulage lines and other infrastructure and shut mines and ports
handling both coking and thermal coals.
Aurizon Holdings, which owns the rail lines that
connect many of the region's collieries with shipping ports, has
had two of its major rail haulage lines, Blackwater and Moura,
shut since last week.
"Repairs have commenced and at this stage we expect the
Blackwater system to reopen by the end of the week," Aurizon
The Moura line, servicing the 7-million-tonnes-per-year
Dawson mine owned jointly by Anglo American and Mitsui
faces a longer repair time, due to extensive track
damage, Aurizon said.
The 700,000-tonnes-per-year Baralaba coal mine owned by
Cockatoo Coal also relies on the Moura line.
Aurizon said it expected to progressively reopen the Moura
line between Feb. 18 and Feb. 25.
Rio Tinto and Xstrata last week declared force majeure on
metallurgical and thermal coal shipments transported on the
Consulting group Wood Mackenzie forecasts that the mines
directly impacted and those dependent on closed rail networks
account for 78 million tonnes of production for the export
market in 2013.
One week of lost production from these mines amounts to 1.5
million tonnes, 60 percent of which is metallurgical coal, it
The wet weather is still a long way from causing the level
of havoc seen in 2011, when many mines were inundated with water
and took months to come back to full production, coal industry
"The majority of mines have not been as severely impacted as
2011 and have been able to continue operations and stockpile
tonnes, Aurizon said.