* One dead in flooding, thousands evacuated
* Coal industry largely unaffected by floods
* Flooding causes damage to agriculture, property
By Rebekah Kebede
PERTH, Feb 6 Thousands of Australians were
forced from their homes on Monday because of floods that have
risen to record levels in some areas and killed one person, and
authorities issued warnings for more than a dozen rivers in
Queensland and New South Wales states.
Australia's coal industry, which is concentrated in
Queensland and New South Wales, was largely unaffected, easing
concern about a repeat of last year's disastrous floods that
sent global coal prices soaring.
But heavy rain is expected to take a toll on the region's
agriculture, particularly on cotton, sugarcane, soybean and
About 2,500 people were evacuated from the Queensland town
of St. George, where flooding is expected to reach a record
level of 14 metres (45 feet) or higher, state police said.
"We're hearing from people whose families have lived on the
property for 100 or more years who've never seen water in their
homes who have now got water up to the roof," Queensland Premier
Anna Bligh told Sky news.
"So we know that something that's never been seen before is
on its way."
St. George was also hit in 2011, when flash floods across
Queensland and New South Wales killed about 35 people, swamped
30,000 houses, and wiped out roads, bridges and rail lines.
The flooding across the two states this year has resulted in
tens of thousands of people being cut off in the last few days,
with some having to battle with deadly snakes as they scrambled
for dry ground.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has forecast that
flooding will continue for weeks in some areas.
The town of Moree, the centre of the New South Wales' cotton
industry was cut in half by record floodwaters, and some
estimated that each farm in the area could lose hundreds of
thousands of dollars worth of crops.
Australia is the world's largest coal exporter and accounts
for roughly two-thirds of global trade of coking coal, used for
steel production. The 2011 floods pushed up global coal prices
as production was brought to a near standstill.
"The coal mines themselves are not experiencing any
difficulties," Queensland Resources Council chief executive
Michael Roche said.
"So far, the Queensland coal industry, as far as we are
aware, has missed the flooding."
On Friday, Whitehaven Coal said it had shut four
mines because of heavy rain, but the mines were not flooded and
no equipment had been damaged.
Global miner Xstrata said there was no impact on its
"It's business as usual," spokeswoman Kathryn Lamond said.
But the industry was still concerned about disruption if
there was no let-up in the rain and more flooding, Roche said.
Many mines are still carrying significant volumes of water
from last year's floods, so more heavy rain is a danger.
Storm damage was estimated to have cut Australia's
commodity-weighted economy's gross domestic product growth (GDP)
by A$20 billion, or 1.5 percent, in the 2010-2011 financial