Xstrata coal shipment delayed as stockpile collapses at Port Kembla
Wednesday, 15 February 2012 | 11:00
The collapse of a coal stockpile at the Port Kembla terminal has halted the loading of a cargo from Xstrata's Tahmoor mine, market sources said Tuesday.
The stockpile was being readied for loading on to the vessel Brilliant Sunrise when part of it slumped due to the coal's high moisture content stemming from recent heavy rainfall, the sources said.
"Significant weather rainfall events have impacted [the] stockyard and we are currently resolving some coal slumping to reclaimer tracks." said Peter Green, general manager for Port Kembla coal terminal in an emailed response to questions Tuesday.
The terminal would restart loading of the vessel as soon as the slumped coal was removed from the base of the coal reclaimer. "Once cleared, loading will recommence," said Green.
The vessel, Brilliant Sunrise, was berthed at Port Kembla coal terminal to load coal exports from Xstrata's Tahmoor colliery and the slumping of its coal stockpile was likely to lead to the ship's delayed departure, according to a trader.
"Once a stockpile has collapsed, it is difficult to recover," said the trader.
Xstrata's Tahmoor mine produces mostly hard coking coal and some thermal coal for export to customers in mostly Asian countries, according the company's website.
"We have been expecting some coal stockpile slumping," said Bob Timbs, a district vice-president for the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union in New South Wales by telephone Tuesday.
The union official explained that heavy rainfall in some New South Wales coal fields has increased the moisture content of stockpiled coal exports, and making stockpiles prone to slumping.
Meanwhile, Timbs said that coal terminal workers at Port Kembla were due to restart their strike at 7:00 am Australian Eastern Standard Time Wednesday (2000 GMT Tuesday) for 12 hours until 7:00 pm AEST Wednesday.
"Workers are not on strike today [Tuesday]. They came back to work this morning, but they are off tomorrow [Wednesday] for 12 hours," he stated.
Timbs added it was his belief that the coal terminal workers' industrial action, which started on February 1 with a seven-day strike and was followed by two 48-hour strikes to date, was affecting coal shipments from Port Kembla.
Eyewitnesses counted 16 vessels waiting offshore Port Kembla coal terminal this week, when the usual number of waiting ships is closer to a handful.
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