21 Jan 2011

Coal shipments resume from Gladstone

1:36 pm on 21 January 2011

The Gladstone Ports Corporation has announced the reopening of the Blackwater rail line, in central Queensland, for coal shipments. The line had been closed since 27 December.

Chief executive Leo Zussino says the first train-load of coal will be loaded on a ship on Friday.

He said 12 coal trains should be unloaded at the port over the next 24 hours, but stockpiles will not return to normal until at least March, if the weather holds.

Gladstone ships coal for export from inland mines, including those owned by BHP Billiton, Anglo American, Xstrata and Rio Tinto.

On Wednesday, GPC said it did not expect to return to full export capacity until the end of March.

However, the Dalrymple Bay coal terminal says its exports have increased to about 70% of normal volumes this week, up from 60% last week.

The ABC reports Dalrymple Bay has shipped about 2.5 million tonnes so far this month, compared to the normal volume of around 3.5 million tonnes.

On Thursday, BHP Billiton said the impact of the Queensland floods has significantly dented its coal output.

The ABC reports coal production dropped 30% versus the previous quarter. The company blames persistent rain and flooding in the Bowen Basin during the period for the drop.

Heavy rains flooded its coalfields and cut road and rail links to coal ports.