Australia’s coal-rich mining region – the Bowen Basin, was hit hard by tropical cyclone Dylan last week as the high wind threat subsided into a downpour.
As a precaution and to prevent further risk from occurring, coal production operations were suspended by many of the mining companies operating open-cut and underground mine sites.
Mining companies like Glencore Xstrata have now begun coal loading operations at its Abbot Point terminal last week due to tropical cyclone Dylan.
The company, which operates the port that connects to the Bowen Basin coal deposit by a sophisticated rail link network, began loading its first ship early on Saturday.
“Wind gusts of up to 135 kph”
Cyclone Dylan made its presence felt as it moved across the Queensland coast last Friday (January 31). Wind gusts of up to 135 kph (83 mph) were reported, as well as heavy rain and higher than normal† tides. As the cyclone moved inland it lost it’s ferocity and was downgraded to a tropical low.
“suspending all shipments and evacuating staff”
Owing to the threat of the cyclone, mining companies who have interests on the coal loading ports decided to cease any activity that may cause accident or injury to occur as the cyclone approached. This involved suspending all shipments and evacuating staff from the immediate area.
Dalrymple Bay, the world’s third-largest bulk-export coal terminal, and Hay Point, which handles coal that has been mined by BMA, remain closed until an assessment can be completed to establish whether any significant damage had occurred.
The Bowen Basin
The Bowen Basin in Queensland is thought to be the world’s single-largest source of high-quality, metallurgical coal. According to† industry data, in 2013, Abbot Point terminal handled 21 million tonnes of coal and the Dalrymple Bay terminal moved more than 65 million tonnes.
More recently, the productivity of coal mining companies operating in the Bowen Basin has hit all-time records as the Australian mining industry moves from the past highs of infrastructure investment to one of increased productivity and a lean approach to maintaining operating efficiencies.
Nature’s fury can affect coal prices
Queensland coal mining companies are no stranger to the adverse effects of operating mines in the tropical north. Three years ago in February 2011, cyclone Yasi led to the closure of coal terminals in Abbot Point, Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay for about 7 days.
“a surge in coal prices”
The closure of the coal ship loading facilities lead to a surge in coal prices, which is was an indication of the supply and demand issues facing the industry at that time. Today, coal prices, just like Queensland’s tropical north, have taken a battering and making inroads to recover to where there is some stability and normality once again.
It’s thought this year, the short interruption to shipping (owing to the cyclone threat), would not have much effect on coal markets, given plentiful coal stocks and the slowdown in Asian business activity because of New Year celebrations.
“thermal coal – $120 tonne for the first time in more than a year”
Hard coking contract prices at the time increased to $330 a tonne, from $225, while thermal coal spot prices cleared $120 tonne for the first time in more than a year, which is good news for the mining companies have been battling their coal extraction and production costs over the last 12 months.