Despite exporting a record amount of coal in the December quarter, the Port of Newcastle is encumbered with its largest shipping queues since before the global financial crisis.
Figures released by the Newcastle Port Corporation earlier this week, reveal that 58 ships were waiting in line as of Monday.
This was just short of the 60 ship queue recorded before Christmas, which was the longest queue since mid-2007.
The figures also show that the average waiting times for vessels at the port ballooned to 17.86 days, the highest in a year.
Most of the coal shipped from Newcastle, the world’s biggest coal port, is thermal coal mined by Xstrata, Rio Tinto and Centennial Coal.
Thermal coal is used by power stations and has been in high demand recently, with North America and Europe in the grip of severe winters.
The spot price has risen to over US$100 per tonne as a result. According to the NSW Government, nearly 8.97 million tonnes of coal was exported in December, beating the previous record set in October last year by 0.17 million tonnes.
“The continuing strong demand for coal comes on top of the new Hunter Coal Export Plan, which will further boost coal export revenue and prosperity for the Hunter Region,” the State’s acting treasurer John Hatzistergos said.
“The Newcastle Port Corporation and the Hunter Valley Coal Chain have worked hard in the past few years to make Newcastle the largest coal export port in the world and this new record can only reinforce that reputation.”