In an economic note released on Friday, Goldman Sachs analysts noted it was “widely believed” that the impact of flooding on the state’s coal mines was more severe and that recovery in output would be “more protracted” than previously thought.
The Queensland government’s mid-year economic and fiscal review estimated that 15 million tonnes of coal exports would be delayed or lost this financial year.
But the investment bank expects a bigger sum of forgone coal production, adding that the government’s estimates predated the effects of Cyclone Yasi on the broader economy.
“Overall, we see the risk to Queensland coal royalties as skewed to the downside,” the analysts said.
“Though higher global coal prices should cushion the impact of the stronger currency [Aussie dollar], we expect Queensland royalty receipts to be undermined by poorer than expected production at the flooded mines.”
Given the state’s “high dependence” on coal royalties, plus weaker than forecast trends in job growth and stamp duty due to lower housing turnover, the analysts said it appeared unlikely that Queensland would regain a AAA credit rating in the near term.
Back in 2009, the government launched an unpopular $15 billion program of state asset sales, including the privatisation of Queensland Rail National, as part of an effort to regain this credit rating.