Coal exports still breaking records

Coal exports are still growing, in spite of a weakened market.

Queensland saw a five per cent growth in coal exports year on year, with three coal ports setting new export records, the QRC reports.

The state has shipped 219.4 million tonnes for this financial year.

“QRC analysis of port export data for the 2014-15 financial year shows that three ports broke coal export records, being Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal with exports of 71.6 million tonnes, Hay Point Coal Terminal (43.4 million tonnes) and Abbot Point (28.7 million tonnes). Gladstone Port at 68.5 million tonnes was just short of last year’s record,” the Queensland Resources Council said.

“Preliminary advice from Port of Brisbane is that they shipped 7.2 million tonnes of coal in 2014-15,” it added.

Earlier this year the state saw a spike in coal exports, which has since continued in form.

It comes as the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal also gets up and running, exporting first coal from its site in April.

QRC CEO Michael Roche said these results demonstrate coal’s continued importance to Queensland, and its support through royalties.

“Any shortfall in royalty revenue in next week’s State budget is not down to lack of export volumes, but rather due to the optimistic price forecasts in the December 2014 mid-year budget review published by the previous government,” Roche said. 

“Our sector continues to provide one in every five jobs and one in every four dollars to the Queensland economy while supporting more than 17,000 businesses across the state.

“The latest record coal export figures are also an inconvenient outcome for the anti-coal activists who are constantly bleating about the end of coal.”

Queensland is not the only state to increase its exports.

New South Wales coal exports have continued to grow in the past financial year, indicating firm global demand for the commodity.

Coal Services found exports are up 5 per cent on FY14, from 127 million tonnes to 133 million tonnes in FY15.

The drop in export volume to China has been made up in other Asian countries, with Korea up 8 per cent, Taiwan up 21 per cent, and the rest of Asia (bar Japan and China) doubling their Australian imports to 15.6 million tonnes in the past nine months.

However, Japan remains NSW’s largest market, consuming 40 per cent of total coal exports.

Remaining export distribution included 18 per cent to China, 17 per cent to Korea, and 11 per cent to Taiwan.

Exports to India have also doubled in the past financial year, a mark of encouragement for the market according to the NSW Minerals Council.

NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said the ongoing export demand indicated solid long term prospects for the future of coal.

“Industry is doing the heavy lifting on production activity – but we are all subject to the vagaries of global commodity price setting,” Roche added.

And the prices themselves have seen a continued downwards trend.

Coking coal prices have dropped to new lows, bringing Australian suppliers down to sell for US$93 per tonne.

Such prices have not been seen since 2004, representing a 70 per cent fall from market highs of US$330 per tonne at the height of the boom in 2011.

The market environment has been put down to new supplies flooding the market combined with China’s lag in demand as a result of measures designed to reduce steel output.

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