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Newcastle coal exports, stocks rise despite train derailment

03 Dec 2012 14:00:43 | csd

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After falling to their lowest level since May in week 47, coal volumes shipped from the Australian port of Newcastle recovered sharply in the week ending on 3 December, rising 56% week on week to 2.8m tonnes, according to data from the Newcastle Port Corporation published on Monday.

As maintenance on a large section of the Hunter valley railway ended, stocks at the two coal terminals operated by Port Waratah Coal Services at Newcastle rose by 36% week on week to 1.4m tonnes on 2 December, rail line operator Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator (HVCCC) said.

However, next week might see a sharp decline in both stocks held and volumes shipped as a railway line serving mines in the Gunnedah coal field in New South Wales was blocked on 29 November, following a derailment of a train.

Six wagons of a coal train travelling from the Boggabri mine to the Newcastle port derailed at a bridge on Thursday, causing "significant damage to the bridge and the track and comprehensive repairs will be required", ARTC said. "Given the scale of the recovery job and track repairs required there still remains no forecast for returning the track to service, but it will be some time," Friday's statement said.

Prices for high-quality FOB Newcastle coal rose sharply after news of derailment broke with a January-loading cargo changing hands at $92.25/tonne on Thursday, up by $2.25/tonne day on day. Prices continued to rise on Friday, prompting one trader to predict further rises in the coming weeks. "We are bullish on Australia," he said.

However, investment bank Macquarie's commodities comment, released on Monday, said price rises recorded in the three main coal hubs last week have been detached from physical market fundamentals. "In our view, these gains have been driven by short covering, helped by falling inventories the return of Indian buyers to the market and the Hunter Valley derailment," the bank said. "In our view, thermal coal price expectations for 2013 remain too high, and we expect the rally in coal futures prices to be short-lived."

Newcastle November exports

Newcastle's total thermal and coking coal shipments fell by 16% month on month in November, with the share of coking coal nearly doubling month on month to 21% of the total, compared with a 12% share held in October.

Japan remained the main importer of Newcastle coal, taking 48% or 3.8m tonnes of the total, China came second, importing 20% of the total (1.5m tonnes), South Korea 16% (1.3m tonnes), while 9% (700,000 tonnes) went to Taiwan, Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS), the operator of Newcastle's coal terminals, said on Monday. MV

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