Better than expected
BIG supply disruptions but overall coal infrastructure passes storm test.
Wednesday 29 March 2017
Early investigations by the region's mine and port operators are indicating surprisingly little structural damage from TC Debbie.
However, forecasts of heavy rain associated with the ex-TC Debbie low-pressure system continues to threaten widespread flooding and disruption to coal mining activities.
Most exposed to the wind and seas associated with the storm were the key coal ports of Hay Point, Abbot Point and Dalrymple Bay which have been closed for three days, with more than 100 ships forced to head out to sea until the storm passed.
In it’s latest update North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP) Chief Executive Officer Steve Lewis said they were pleased with how all the ports had come through the cyclone.
“As you would expect, there has been some damage from debris and flood water,” Mr Lewis said.
“But we have not received reports of significant damage at this time.
“Like a large part of the region, power remains the critical challenge with outages at all of our NQBP sites.”
“From tomorrow, NQBP will start clean-up work and a more detailed assessment of infrastructure located at the Port of Mackay.
“Marine Safety Queensland has given the ‘okay’ to vessels off the Ports of Hay Point and Abbot Point to return to anchorage from the outer reef.”
NQBP has not given a definite indication of when exports will recommence but says the Harbour Master and Marine Pilots still need to survey navigational channels and berths before ports reopen.
“Re-opening of the coal terminals at the Ports of Hay Point and Abbot Point will be a decision made by the private businesses that operate those terminals,`’ he added.
Among the mines first hit by TC Debbie were Glencore's operations around Collinsville and Glenden in the far north of the Bowen Basin.
With the worst of the weather now past that area, the company says they will reopen as soon as possible
“All our people are safe and there has been no damage to our mine infrastructure, “ a spokesperson said.
“Production remains suspended at our Collinsville and Newlands coal mines and we are undertaking water management activities in accordance with our approvals.
“Both mines plan to return to production over the next 48 hours and we do not envisage any impact on our annual production forecasts.
“It currently remains business as usual at our Oaky Creek, Clermont and Rolleston coal mines.”
Further South, Yancoal has declared Force Majeure at its Middlemount mine, while a spokesperson for BMA told Shift Miner it's too early to know if there has been any damage.
“Mining is temporarily suspended at our central operations, with minimal personnel on site for security and essential systems monitoring,” a spokesperson said.
“We are continually monitoring the situation and plans Plans are well advanced on when we can safely resume operations.
“Impacts to production will be reported in our next Quarterly update.”
The Peak Downs Highway is closed due to flooding, while the state of the Fitzroy Developmental road is unknown. Every dirt road in the coal fields is closed.
Rail operator Aurizon has not released any information regarding rail disruptions and have not responded to multiple phone calls.
With the storm still moving through the region, it is not known what the final implication will be for coal supplies out of the Bowen Basin.
A supply disruption late last year in Australia, coupled with Chinese coal production restrictions sent coal prices spiralling to record highs before Christmas. While in February 2011 when Cyclone Yasi hit the coalfields coal production fell 22% which led to a price spike of 40%.
However, it's too early to know whether that will happen this time around.
According to Platts, coal prices rose around 1.5% when the cyclone formed late last week and looked destined for the coalfields.