Australian North Queensland’s May coal exports rebound to 12.73 mil mt
Coal exports from Australia’s metallurgical coal dominant region of North Queensland bounced back strongly in May after a year-to-date low in April, latest data from the North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation showed. A total 12.73 million mt of coal was shipped from the three coal terminals in North Queensland in May, up 25% from 10.16 million mt a year earlier and up 24% from 10.28 million mt in April, the data showed.
Exports were impacted in April as the terminals in the region dealt with the impact of Tropical Cyclone Iris as well as scheduled maintenance. All three — Dalrymple Bay, Hay Point and Abbot Point — saw a few days of interruptions to train unloading and exports at the beginning of April as Iris lashed the Queensland coast. But the impact was not as severe as seen in the prior April by Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
The Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal also had its third outloading system and berths three and four offline for approximately three-and-a-half weeks of scheduled maintenance from April 16.
The throughput in May was the highest for the year with the exception of the multi-year high record set in December of 13.84 million mt, the NQBP data showed.
Exports from the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance-owned Hay Point Coal Terminal surged to a potential all-time high of 4.77 million mt in May, from 3.37 million mt a year ago, and by 30% from 3.68 million mt in April.
It was the highest export volume from HPCT in a single month since at least September 2013. The May export rate translated to an annualized rate of 56.12 million mt, which was above the terminal’s nameplate capacity of 55 million mt/year.
For January-May, the terminal was running at a rate of 50.22 million mt/year, compared with actual exports of 44.14 million mt in 2017.
The neighbouring 85 million mt/year nameplate common-user Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal also saw a strong lift in exports in May with 5.78 million mt sent during the month, up 33% year on year from 4.36 million mt, and 44% higher than the 4.02 million mt exported in April, the data showed. DBCT was running at an annualized rate of 67.15 million for January-May, which was above last year’s total of 64.95 million mt.
The most northern of the three terminals, the 50 million mt/year nameplate capacity Abbot Point Coal Terminal bucked the trend in May and registered lower exports.
APCT shipped 2.19 million mt during the month, which was down 10% year on year from 2.43 million mt and 15% lower than April’s 2.58 million mt, the data showed. APCT has ample latent capacity, running at an annualized rate of 28.35 million mt from January-May.
In total, North Queensland exported 60.28 million mt of coal for January-May, which translated to an annualized rate of 145.72 million mt against the three terminals’ combined nameplate of 190 million mt/year. Last year, the region shipped 134.85 million mt, the data showed.
The breakdown of coal exports by metallurgical coal and thermal coal is not readily available, but metallurgical coal makes up the bulk of it.