* Sees fiscal 2013 coal sales from Curragh mine in a range
of 7.5-8 mln tonnes
* Floods in Australia's north east severe, although not as
widespread as in 2011
* It could take several weeks to resume full coal production
in Queensland - resources council
SYDNEY, Jan 30 Australian mining-to-retail
conglomerate Wesfarmers on Wednesday cut its full-year
coal sales forecast, citing flooding in Australia and weak
demand in Asia that is depressing sales prices.
Heavy tropical rains over the last week that inundated
Australia's eastern coalfields, cut rail haulage lines and shut
mines and ports across two states.
More than half the world's metallurgical coal exports come
Sales of metallurgical coal from Wesfarmer's Curragh mine in
Queensland are expected to be in a range of 7.5 million to 8
million tonnes in fiscal 2013. The mine recently completed A$286
million ($299 million) of expansion work to enables it to
produce as much as 8.5 million tonnes.
"Sales of metallurgical coal in the first half of the 2013
financial year were affected by a scheduled mine shutdown in
December and lower short-term demand from traditional North Asia
customers," Wesfarmers Managing Director Stewart Butel said.
"Recent high rainfall and localised flooding experienced in
the aftermath of Cyclone Oswald has, in late January, affected
mine site production and rail and port availability," Butel
The floods in the aftermath of Oswald in Australia's far
north were severe, although not as widespread as the
monsoon-like rains that saturated Queensland and New South Wales
states in late 2011 and reduced coal exports for most of 2012.
Between 200 and 400 millimeters of rain fell over Queensland
state's Bowen Basin, home to giant open pit mines owned by BHP
Billiton , Mitsubishi Corp, Anglo
American, Peabody Energy and others.
While television images show flood waters raging out of
control across the state, it appears that, by and large, the
major coal producing areas have got off lightly, compared to the
devastation around this time two years ago.
The price of coking coal hit a record in 2011 above $300 a
tonne, owing to the widespread damage to collieries and
infrastructure at the time.
On world markets, metallurgical-grade coal is now selling
for around $155-$165 a tonne. UBS has a long-term nominal
forecast of $150 a tonne.
AngloAmerican this week said some its operations were
affected by heavy rains, while BHP said it was working to return
A levee bank surrounding the Middlemount mine in the Bowen
Basin was breached and water flowed into the open cut, according
to part owner Yancoal.
Production from the mine is likely to be affected for at
least three weeks, although Yancoal could not say for certain.
Peabody and Yancoal Australia are joint owners of the mine.
Separately, production was suspended at Yancoal's Yarrabee
mine at the weekend but was expected to resume this week.
Wesfarmers settled on a roughly 2 percent increase in coal
sales prices for the current quarter, amounting to about $4 a
tonne, which was in line with other settlements in the industry
and reflects weakness in the market.
In Queensland, where most of the metallurgical coal is
mined, it could take several weeks to resume full production,
according to the Queensland Resources Council. ($1 = 0.9566