January 25, 2013 / 10:07 AM / 5 years ago

Wet weather shuts Australia coal port, rail

PERTH, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Rain and flooding in Australia’s eastern state of Queensland caused by the remnants of Cyclone Oswald have stopped some coal exports and shut part of the coal transport rail system, but the wet weather is not expected to have a significant impact on mine operations, industry sources said Friday.

Australia is the world’s largest metallurgical coal exporter, accounting for roughly two-thirds of global trade.

Coal export loadings at the Dalrymple Bay terminal were shut on Thursday and Friday due to rough weather, but would likely resume early Saturday if weather conditions allowed, said Greg Smith, general manager of operations.

“We’ve got coal available and ready to go, so as soon as we can get a ship alongside, we’ll go back to full loading,” he said.

A tropical low is moving south along Queensland’s coast but has a very low likelihood of strengthening back into a cyclone, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

As a result of flooding in Queensland, Aurizon Holdings Ltd has shut parts of its freight rail operations which transport coal from mines for export, it said on Friday.

“The Moura system is closed and the Blackwater system partially closed due to the effects of flooding along the supply chain,” a company spokeswoman said in an email to Reuters, adding that would not restart until it was safe to do so.

Spot coking coal prices were pegged at over $167 per tonne, above the most recent quarterly settlement of $160 per tonne.

Australia’s cyclone season runs from Nov. 1 to April 30.

Cyclones and rain during the 2010-2011 season forced dozens of companies to evacuate flooded coal mines, and wiped out a significant amount of production for much of the year.

“Our Queensland operations are prepared for the forecast wet weather and a number of sites have already received rainfall. We do not expect the weather to significantly affect our mines,” an Xstrata Plc spokeswoman said in an email on Friday.

Other major producers in the region, including Peabody Energy Corp, BHP Billiton Ltd, Anglo American Plc, and Rio Tinto Ltd did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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