Storms Halt Steelmaking-Coal Shipments From Biggest Exporter

Storms interrupted exports of coal used in steelmaking from ports on the northeast coast of Australia, which accounts for 53 percent of world shipments.

Operations were suspended at the port of Hay Point, affecting the Dalrymple Bay and Hay Point coal terminals, Tom Hilston, spokesman for state government agency Maritime Safety Queensland, said by phone today. The port aims to resume activity tomorrow, weather permitting, he said.

Rains caused by former tropical cyclone Oswald also disrupted shipping at Gladstone and Abbot Point, other ports in Queensland where coal is loaded onto ships, Gulf Agency Co. (Australia) Pty said by e-mail today. The weather was likely to hamper coal mining and transportation of the commodity to terminals, the port agent said.

A “brief rally” might lift world spot and contract prices for coking coal as high as $180 a metric ton, Melinda Moore, London-based bulk-commodity sales executive at Standard Bank Plc, said in an e-mailed response to questions. Prices will average $170 in this year’s first half, the lender estimates.

The magnitude of any gains will depend on the extent of water damage to mines, which are still recovering from floods in recent years, Moore said. Coal mines in Queensland affected by floods in late 2010 and early 2011 cut shipments and curbed global output, lifting the country’s export earnings 29 percent during the year as contract prices soared, according to the bureau.

Australia exported 145 million tons of the 272 million tons of coking coal traded globally last year, according to the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics, a government forecaster. Queensland shipped 118 million tons in the year through June, state government figures showed.

Coal also is burned to generate power, and Indonesia is the leading exporter of that variety of the commodity.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michelle Wiese Bockmann in London at mwiesebockma@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at anightingal1@bloomberg.net

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