Cyclone Ului downgraded

MINE operators in central Queensland are breathing a sigh of relief this morning as Cyclone Ului, which crossed central Queensland in the early hours of yesterday morning, appears to have skirted major towns and mines.
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Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal. Courtesy Prime Infrastructure.

Angie Tomlinson

The category 3 cyclone has been downgraded to a low-pressure system with heavy rain but no further wind damage, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Townsville office.

“We are characterising it as a significant event with severe damage in some pockets, but not a catastrophic event,” Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said.

“There are reports of a number of houses completely unroofed.”

About 60,000 homes in the area suffered power blackouts but there were no reports of injuries.

Most mines in the region this morning are surveying any damage and attempting to return to normal production.

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s Hay Point and the Dalrymple Bay coal terminals remain closed because of rough seas, affecting the export of coal from BMA’s coal mines in central Queensland as well as mines owned by Macarthur and Xstrata.

Macarthur on Friday declared force majeure in relation to all accepted vessels. It was unable to advise if the suspension would impact its full-year sales forecast of 4.8-5 million tonnes.

BMA owns and operates seven Bowen Basin mines – Goonyella Riverside, Broadmeadow, Peak Downs, Saraji, Norwich Park, Gregory Crinum and Blackwater – which use the Hay Point terminal.

BMA said operations at its South Walker Creek mine near Nebo in the state's central highlands region would resume today.

About 3Mt of coal output in the Bowen Basin has been lost in the current quarter because of heavy rains, ANZ senior commodity strategist Mark Pervan said.

BMA felt it was not yet safe enough to start operating the Hay Point terminal.

“We will continue to monitor conditions to decide when it is safe to reopen the terminal,” BMA spokesperson Fiona Martin said.

Hay Point port comprises two separate coal export terminals – Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal, leased from the state government by private company DBCT Management, and the Hay Point Coal Terminal, owned and operated by BMA.

Together, the two terminals serve the coal mines of central Queensland. The mines are linked to the terminals through an integrated rail-port network. North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation is the port authority.

Following a recent expansion program, the Hay Point terminal has the capacity to handle and despatch around 43-45Mt of coal a year.

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