Newcastle queue hurts Gloucester

HUNTER Valley producer Gloucester Coal has reported lost coal sales and incidents of customers deferring sales rather than have vessels stand in queue off the Port of Newcastle.
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Courtesy Gloucester Coal

Angie Tomlinson

While total sales for the company for July to December 2006 were in line with expectations, Gloucester said the vessel queue represented about 10% in lost sales for the first half of the 2006-07 financial year.

“Coal sales have been directly impacted by the large vessel queue at Newcastle Port. Vessels arriving after December 12 did not load until January,” the company said today.

The 50-vessel queue translates to a 16-day delay between ship arrival and loading.

Demurrage costs have also blown out, with Gloucester paying in excess of $250,000 during December 2006. The company expects the high demurrage levels to continue through the March 2007 quarter.

Gloucester was able to keep its first-half sales in line with expectations largely due to its sales of thermal coal.

“The large thermal inventory at the end of the September quarter has been shipped, with thermal inventory at the end of January 2007 forecast to be less than 30,000 tonnes,” the company said.

Gloucester continued its exploration program in the last six months of 2006, with drilling confirming the existence of the Clareval Seam at East Duralie.

Gloucester will issue an updated JORC resource statement in March 2007 and expects to report a significant upgrade to the coal resources at Duralie.

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