Canadian coal port repairs could take six months

THE supply of Canadian hard coking coals to Japan and other customers is likely to be impacted in the short term by a windstorm that severely damaged a coal export facility near Vancouver on January 2.

Greg Tubby

Westshore Terminals said the sudden storm damaged equipment at one of the Roberts Bank terminal's two deep-sea berths, rendering the berth inoperative until repairs are made.

Two employees were injured, and preliminary estimates to repair the damaged equipment were put at six months.

The remaining operations of the terminal, including loading through the larger Berth One, were not affected by the incident, Westshore said.

"With greater concentration of the remaining equipment (stacker reclaimers and dumpers) to Berth One and with suitable arrangements with its customers, Westshore's management believes that its customers should be able to meet their delivery requirements without material disruption during the repair period," it said.

However, it was unable to provide an estimated of its throughput for 2003.

Westshore said its insurance was expected to cover the costs of repair and most of the lost profits from a reduction in shipments.

But it did not expect the incident to affect its ability to finance its participation in a deal that would see it join with Fording and Teck Cominco to form a new income trust fund. The fund is designed to counter a C$1.8 billion bid for Fording by Sherritt International and the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board.

Westshore handles about 21 million tonnes of coal each year worth C$1.5 billion. Its major coal mining customers are Fording, with mines at Fording River, Greenhills and Coal Mountain, Teck with a mine at Elkview, and Luscar with the Line Creek, Obed Mountain and Coal Valley mines.