Australian North Queensland’s Apr coal exports hit 12-month low on cyclone

Coal exports from Australia’s North Queensland hit a one-year low in April due to Tropical Cyclone Iris and scheduled maintenance at one of the three ports in the region, data from the North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation showed Wednesday.

A total 10.28 million mt of coal was shipped from the key metallurgical coal production region’s three export terminals Abbott Point, Dalrymple Bay and Hay Point in the month, down 17% from March.

However, the total was still up 218% from last April, when the region was more severely impacted by Tropical Cyclone Debbie, the data showed.

All three terminals grappled with interruptions to train unloadings and exports in early April as Iris lashed the Queensland coast, although the impact was less severe than that sustained from Debbie a year earlier.

The 85 million mt/year nameplate capacity Dalrymple Bay posted the biggest drop in exports, falling 35% month on month to 4.02 million mt in April, after an outloading system and two berths were taken offline April 16 for 3 1/2 weeks’ scheduled maintenance.

The maintenance had been scheduled to run April 9-May 4, but was delayed by Iris. The total, while a 12-month low, was still 301% higher than in April 2017.

Over January-April, Dalrymple Bay’s throughput equated to an annualized rate of 66.92 million mt, higher than realized exports in full year 2017 of 64.95 million mt.

The 50 million mt/year nameplate Abbot Point shipped 2.58 million mt of coal in April, up 75% from a year earlier and up 20% from March. If it maintains its January-April rate for the rest of year, it will ship 29.01 million mt in 2018, up from realized exports of 25.76 million mt in 2017.

The 55 million mt/year capacity Hay Point exported 3.68 million mt of coal in April, up 384% year on year and down 9% from March. Its annualized rate over January-March was 48.7 million mt, higher than realized exports in 2017 of 44.14 million mt.

Most of the coal exported by the three terminals is metallurgical coal, but the ratio to thermal coal was not readily available.

Source: Platts

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