Coal exports rise in the hunter

The Hunter region has recorded rise in coal exports year on year, despite a drop in price.

The Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator’s (HVCCC) latest monthly report show 78.6 million tonnes of coal have been transported by rail to the Port of Newcastle in the first six months of 2016, increasing from 76.8 million tonnes in the previous corresponding period, according to a Newcastle Herald report.

If this rate continues, Newcastle coal exports could exceed lasts year’s 158 million tonnes.

The report also shows the increased efficiency of Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS), which operates the port’s three coal terminals. It now takes an average of 17 hours to load a coal ship, three hours less than in 2011. Similarly, the Carrington terminal – recording an average of 27 hours – slashed three hours off its load time since 2011.

In 2016, PWCS loaded 445 ships with coal, compared to 447 the same time last year.

Ships also have shorter wait periods this year, decreasing from seven days in 2011, to an average of two days.

PWCS records also indicate that Japan consumes nearly half of the Hunter’s coal, followed by Korea at 12.8 per cent, and China’s 11.9 per cent.

The price of thermal coal – the Hunter’s main export – has continued to drop, with a BHP Billiton operational review outlining a price of $US46 a tonne in the first half of the year, slipping from the $US49 a tonne in the six months to the end of December.

However, the price of coking coal has seen a minor increase over the past few months after actions to cut coking coal oversupply, such as China slashing output and reducing general supply levels.