* Coal ports close as cyclone zeroes in on Queensland state
* Cyclone Dylan set to hit land early Friday
* BHP, Glencore ports idle until storm passes
By James Regan
SYDNEY, Jan 30 Industrial ports have closed
along Australia's Queensland coast as a cyclone strengthens
offshore, bringing some of the world's largest coal shipping
operations to a halt, port officials said on Thursday.
Tropical Cyclone Dylan has formed off the north Queensland
coast and is expected to continue moving in a general
southwesterly direction and to gradually intensify, before
hitting land early on Friday, according to the Australian Bureau
It was too early to determine how long ports will remain
closed, but traders said a short interruption in shipping would
have little impact on markets.
At around 0300 GMT, Dylan was classified as a category one
cyclone, the lowest on a one-to-five scale.
The Hay Point terminal, used to ship coal mined jointly by
BHP Billiton and Mitusbishi Corp, has been
shuttered, along with the nearby Mackay port, a ports
In addition, the Abbot Point coal terminal used by Glencore
Xstrata and the Dalrymple Bay terminals are shut.
The Port of Townsville, used by Queensland Nickel to import
ore and export refined nickel has cancelled all ship movements,
said the port's chief executive, Ranee Crosby.
Townsville residents are being warned of dangerous storm
The sea is likely to rise steadily to a level well above the
normal tide, with damaging waves and flooding of some low-lying
areas close to the shoreline, according to emergency officials.
Dylan was about 235 kilometres (145 miles) north-east of
Townsville at around 0300 GMT, moving at 14 kms (9 miles) per
hour and packing winds of 120 kms (75 miles) per hour.
About 20 ships waiting to load coal exports at the Dalrymple
Bay terminal moved further out to sea earlier this week because
of rough seas, and the harbourmaster is not allowing ships to
return, possibly until Friday, by which time the cyclone is
forecast to drop in strength.
The Dalrymple Bay terminal moved more than 65 million tonnes
of coal in 2013, industry data showed.
The Port of Abbot Point handled 21 million tonnes of coal,
which is shipped from collieries in the Bowen Basin, the world's
single-largest source of metallurgical coal.
Powerful cyclone Yasi led to the closure of coal terminals
in Abbot Point, Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay for almost one week
in February 2011, leading to a surge in coal prices after the
supply chain was disrupted.
(Editing by Joseph Radford)