05-04-2018

Australia’s Queensland coking coal terminals to reopen Thursday after Cyclone Iris

The two metallurgical coal export terminals on Australia’s Queensland coast, which closed due to Tropical Cyclone Iris, are expected to reopen Thursday, the state’s Department of Transport and Main Roads said Wednesday.

Both the Abbot Point and Hay Point terminals are scheduled to reopen at midday local time Thursday, subject to prevailing weather conditions, a spokesman told S&P Global Platts. The two coal terminals’ operations were suspended on Tuesday as Tropical Cyclone Iris moved along the Queensland coastline.

However, Darylymple Bay Coal Terminal, whose operations were also suspended Tuesday, announced force majeure on the loading of port vessels late Tuesday.

The Port of Gladstone continued to operate throughout the period.

The cyclone has weakened to a category 1 and is expected to weaken further later Wednesday or Thursday, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said Wednesday.

“During the past few hours, Iris has turned in a more east-south easterly direction and moved slightly further away from the coast,” the bureau said.

“On Thursday, Iris should weaken below tropical cyclone intensity and slow down offshore of the Central Coast, before adopting a track back towards the northwest as a tropical low during Friday,” it added.

The cyclone has not made landfall.

In February, the three coal terminals, which are currently closed, exported a combined 11.12 million mt, which was a nine-month low. The combined exports also reflected a 2% decline year on year and a drop of 20% month on month, North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation data showed.

During the same month, the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal saw exports of 5.13 million mt, down 11% year on year, and 24% from January.

The neighboring Hay Point Coal Terminal shipped 3.70 million mt in February, which is a 4% year on year fall, and a 20% drop month on month.

The most northernly of the three terminals, Abbot Point, exported 2.29 million mt in February, which was up 28% from a particularly weak February 2017, but down 9% from January.

“We understand the impact these closures have on port operations and will regularly review conditions,” the department spokesman said.

“Any decision to return to normal port operations will only be made when we are confident they can be carried out within required safety limits,” he added.

At around the same time last year, Queensland was hit by Cyclone Debbie, doubling coking coal prices to $304/mt Platts PLV FOB Australia on April 17, 2017.

Since the shutting of Australian coal terminals Tuesday, coal prices have moved up $1/mt from Monday to $197.50/mt PLV FOB Australia Tuesday.

Source: Platts

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