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Hay Point Coal Exports Decline After Maintenance

Australia’s Hay Point port, the world’s biggest coal export harbor, cut July shipments by 24 percent after maintenance at its terminals and the railway serving them. Weekly coal deliveries from Newcastle also fell.

Exports reached 7.7 million metric tons from Hay Point’s two terminals, according to figures on the North Queensland Bulk Ports Corp.’s website. The volume of coal shipped from Newcastle in New South Wales state dropped 21 percent last week, Newcastle Port Corp. said.

Hay Point port, about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) north of Brisbane, has the capacity to export 129 million tons of coal a year. BHP Billiton-Mitsubishi Alliance, operator of one of the terminals at the harbor, and Prime Infrastructure Group, which owns the lease and development rights for the other, closed berths in July and August for planned maintenance.

Exports from Prime’s Dalrymple Bay terminal, which ships 80 percent of its coal to steelmakers, reached 5.1 million tons in July, from 6.1 million the previous month. The terminal, which has the capacity to export 85 million tons, shipped 63.1 million tons in the 12 months ended June 30.

Fifty-six ships are waiting off the east coast to load coal from Dalrymple Bay, Julie Forster, agency manager for ATIC Services, said at the Coaltrans conference in Brisbane yesterday. Paris-based ATIC charters vessels.

Ships wait on average 22 days to load at Australia’s coal ports, Rahul Khanna, shipbroker and freight analyst at Clarksons Plc, said at the conference. There are about 120 vessels currently waiting off the east coast, he said.

Rail Closure

The volume exported from the Hay Point terminal, operated by the BHP Billiton-Mitsubishi Alliance, was 2.57 million tons in July, from 4.04 million the previous month. The facility, which has a capacity of 44 million tons, shipped 36.3 million tons to steelmakers in the 12 months ended June 30.

QR National, Australia’s biggest transporter of coal by rail, shut down the system servicing the harbor between July 14 and July 18 for scheduled maintenance. The Goonyella network is the busiest in Queensland and serves 22 mines operated by companies including Xstrata Plc, Rio Tinto Group and Peabody Energy Corp.

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, the world’s largest steelmaking coal exporter, closed one of two berths at its Hay Point terminal between July 7 and Aug. 10 to install a fender, which absorbs impact and friction. The alliance is a joint venture between BHP and Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Corp.

Newcastle Shipments

Prime shut Berth 2 at Dalrymple Bay between July 6 and July 28 for planned maintenance. Berth 1 will be closed from Aug. 2 to Aug. 28 for work on a shiploader, Greg Smith, general manager of operations, said July 28.

The volume exported from Newcastle in the seven days ended 7 a.m. local time Aug. 16 fell to 1.72 million tons from 2.19 million tons a week earlier, Newcastle Port said on its website. Stockpiles at two terminals operated by Port Waratah Coal Services Ltd. declined, the report showed.

The railway that transports coal from mines to Newcastle port closed for three days last week for scheduled maintenance, Australian Rail Track Corp. spokesman Brian Dale, said by telephone today. The company manages rail tracks in three states.

“The drop in stocks is part of a planned and coordinated rail and loader maintenance outage,” Port Waratah spokesman Matthew Watson said in e-mailed response to questions. “Loading activity resumed” Aug. 16. The two terminals have a capacity to ship 113 million tons of coal a year.

Rio Tinto, Xstrata and BHP are among mining companies that export the fuel from Newcastle, the world’s biggest export port for coal burned by power stations. The harbor has three terminals. Seven vessels were outside the harbor, down from 14 a week earlier and coal ships waited to load for an average of 14.33 days, down from 14.88 days, Newcastle Port said.

Power-station coal prices at Newcastle, an Asian benchmark, fell 5.4 percent, declining for the sixth straight week. Prices dropped to $86.95 a ton in the week ended Aug. 13, from $91.87 in the previous period, according to the globalCOAL NEWC Index.

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