* Gladstone coal stockpiles under 1 mln tonnes
* Coal supplies unlikely to arrive for another week
(Adds details, context)
By Rebekah Kebede
PERTH, Dec 31 Torrential rains and flooding
are set to cut rail supplies of coal for another week from
inland mines to Australia's third-largest coal export terminal
Gladstone, forcing the port to run down already-depleted
"With the coal supply chain stopped due to the extensive
flooding in the area, we are only able to load from our
stockpiles," Gladstone Port Corp Chief Executive Craig Walker
said in a statement.
Current stockpiles at the terminal are under 1 million
tonnes, about a one week supply. Walker said he expected the
coal haulage rail lines from Blackwater and Moura into the
port to be closed for another week.
Recurring downpours and flooding in Queensland state have
disrupted coal production and transport, hitting Australia's
$51 billion a year coal industry.
Coal mines with an annual production capacity of more than
90 million tonnes -- about 35 percent of Australia's estimated
259 million tonnes of coal exports in 2009 -- are under force
More than half a dozen miners have declared force majeure
on deliveries, including Anglo American Metallurgical Coal
, BHP Billiton , Rio Tinto , Macarthur
Coal , Xstrata , Vale and Cockatoo
Coal . [ID:nL3E6N902I]
Companies typically declare force majeure when they cannot
honour legal contracts due to unforeseen acts beyond their
In a sign of possible recovery from the floods, Dalrymple
Bay Coal Terminal, located at the world's largest coal export
port of Hay Point, will restart export shipments on Saturday
after it ran out of coal stockpiles for export earlier in the
week due to the heavy rains and flooding.
Dalrymple Bay expects coal supplies to begin arriving by
rail from inland mines late Friday night, allowing the
terminal to begin loading coal, said general operations
manager Greg Smith.
Australia is the world's biggest exporter of coking coal
used for steel-making and accounts for about two-thirds of
global trade. The nation also accounts for about 20 percent of
thermal coal exports worldwide, making it the second-biggest
exporter of the coal used for power generation after Indonesia.
The country's unusually wet spring and early summer have
already pushed both coking coal and thermal prices sharply
higher and tight markets are keeping a close eye on further
Queensland produces mostly coking coal which is exported
to be used in steel-making, but some mines also produce
thermal coal. Queensland's ports currently have an annual coal
export capacity of 225 million tonnes.
Earlier this month, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural
and Resource Economics and Sciences forecast that Australia's
metallurgical coal exports will climb 2 percent for 2010/11
despite the rains, but cut its production forecast for coking
coal by 7.3 million tonnes. [ID:nSDYDNE6NP]
(Reporting by Rebekah Kebede; Editing by Manash Goswami)