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Mixed quarter for coal

IT WAS a mixed third quarter for Australian coal miners with thermal coal earnings up 16% but metallurgical coal down by 12%, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics' latest mineral statistics.

Vivienne Ryan
Mixed quarter for coal

Compared to the December quarter, thermal coal exports were up by $A292 million to more than $A2 billion while metallurgical coal fell by $A387 million to $2.9 billion.

ABARE attributed the fall to low export volumes and crippling bad weather.

Total export earnings from Australia’s mineral resources remained unchanged from the December quarter, at $A27.1 billion.

Production of run-of-mine black coal for the March quarter was 90 million tonnes – a 9% fall from the March 2007 quarter. Saleable black coal dropped by nearly 12% to 68Mt.

The decline was due to lower coal production in Queensland attributed to seasonal weather conditions and heavy rainfall in the Bowen Basin at the beginning of the year.

Floods in the Bowen Basin entered pits and cut access to roads and mines.

Coal prices have been on the increase so far this financial year with thermal coal jumping from an average of $A67.39 per tonne in January 2008 to $A76.91/t in March this year.

Metallurgical coal prices also increased from January’s average of $A93.05/t to $A104.16/t in March.

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