* Speed restrictions in place on Blackwater, Goonyella
* Port vessel queues increase
By Rebekah Kebede
PERTH, Dec 13 Australian rail-freight firm QR
National said Monday its Blackwater and Goonyella
rail lines in Queensland state are back in operation after
heavy rains shut them down over the weekend, but speed
restrictions remain in place.
QR National's rail lines, which are a key link between
Queensland's coal mines and its coal export terminals, have
had disruptions for two weekends in a row due to unseasonably
Queensland's $39 billion-a-year mining industry produces
mostly coking coal which is exported to be used in
steel-making, but some mines also produce thermal coal used in
power generation. Queensland's ports currently have an annual
coal export capacity of 225 million tonnes per annum.
The wet weather has slowed exports, with several companies
declaring force majeures as the rains have slowed output from
open cut mines and transport from coal mines to ports.
At the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal in the Port of Hay
Point, coal is available for only eight of the 42 vessels
currently waiting, according Greg Smith, the terminal's
general manager of operations.
Last week, Gladstone Port Corporation said several
companies shipping coal out of its port had declared force
majeure. The port showed 26 vessels waiting off the port on
Monday, up from 23 on Friday.
On Monday, Wesfarmers announced that
metallurgical coal output from its Curragh mine would fall due
to the impact of the rains. The company has had a force
majeure on all exports and domestic contracts since Dec. 2.
Several other mines, including Xstrata's
Rolleston, Macarthur Coal's Coppabella and Moorvale,
Aquila Resources and Vale 's Isaac Plains,
and Ensham, have also declared force majeure.
Companies typically declare force majeure when they cannot
honour legal contracts due to unforeseen acts they cannot
QR National said its Moura and Newlands rail systems
continue to operate.
(Reporting by Rebekah Kebede; editing by Balazs Koranyi)