Shipping declines at key Queensland ports

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance has suffered from a 24% dive in coking coal exports in December from the previous month at its wholly owned and operated Hay Point coal terminal in Queensland.
Shipping declines at key Queensland ports Shipping declines at key Queensland ports Shipping declines at key Queensland ports Shipping declines at key Queensland ports Shipping declines at key Queensland ports

BMA Hay Point Services

Blair Price

Australia’s largest coal export facility only shipped 2.57 million tonnes last month compared to 3.38Mt in November, and was 20% shy of the 3.23Mt from December 2007, according to data available from the Ports Corporation of Queensland.

Figures from the neighbouring Dalrymple Bay port, which serves 10 northern Bowen Basin mines including coal from BMA, revealed a 15% drop to 3.33Mt from 3.93Mt in November; however, this export tonnage was nearly 4% up from December 2007.

BMA at this stage has not made any announcements of production or job cutbacks following the drop-off in coal markets which have been crashing along with other commodities in the ongoing global financial tsunami.

This differs to the other key longwall players of Xstrata Coal with its Oaky No. 1 closure, Rio Tinto with its 15% cut in production at Kestrel, Peabody Energy’s commitment to slice 2Mt from its Australian operations, and Anglo American’s plans to axe 10% production this year.

Meanwhile, BMA is expected to meet steel producers in the week starting from Australia Day, according to the Japanese industry publication Tex Report.

With fixed export contracts up for renewal due to the end of the Japanese financial year on March 31, analysts made significantly downgraded forecasts for coking coal back in November last year.

ANZ analysts forecast coking coal to hit $US155 a tonne free on board for its 2009 forecast, while Macquarie analysts projected hard coking coal to hit $US140/t FOB.

Both price ranges are well short of plum deals with Japanese customers last year of $US300/t.

Meanwhile, data collected and released last week by the Reserve Bank of Australia had Japan taking 24% of all coking coal imports in 2007, on par with the whole of Europe.

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