Sydney — Shipped volumes of coal from Australia's North Queensland fell for the third consecutive month in November to a six-month low, data from the North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation showed Thursday.
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The region, which is home to the Dalrymple Bay, Hay Point and Abbott Point coal terminals, shipped 11.31 million mt during the month, which is down 2% year on year from 11.53 million mt, and 5% from 11.90 million mt in October, the NQBP data shows.
For the year to November, monthly exports from North Queensland peaked in August at 13.44 million mt, and have slid since then.
Exports from the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal were the lowest since May, totalling 5.18 million mt in November, up 1% year on year from 5.11 million mt but down 22% from 6.64 million mt in October, the data shows.
DBCT has recently been experiencing vessel queues at the highest levels since 2010, with around 45 ships waiting. From 2011 to June 2017, the monthly daily average queue only exceeded 30 ships twice, according to DBCT Management data.
One of DBCT's users Stanmore Coal, said Thursday that the port congestion has caused it to defer two planned December semi-soft coking coal shipments into January.
"The vessel queue is primarily due to a slower-than-expected clearing of the backlog caused by the impact of Tropical Cyclone Debbie earlier this year when the Goonyella rail line was disrupted for over five weeks," it said.
Tropical Cyclone Debbie made landfall in late March.
"Vessel queues are expected to return to lower levels in early calendar 2018 and as a result, production guidance of 1.2 million mt/year for the FY 18 remains unchanged and Stanmore's FY 18 results are not expected to be materially impacted," Stanmore said.
Other Australian coal export ports are currently not experiencing similar shipping delays, it added.
The neighbouring BHP Mitsubishi Alliance-owned Hay Point Coal Terminal saw exports in November bounce back from very weak levels in October, NQBP data showed.
HPCT shipped 3.90 million mt in November, which is down 10% year on year from 4.32 million mt, but 32% higher than the 2.95 million mt shipped in October, it shows.
Apart from April this year -- when exports from the terminal were heavily impacted by Tropical Cyclone Debbie and slumped to just 759,000 mt -- HPCT's October exports were the smallest monthly volume since at least September 2013, according to the data.
Further north, shipment volumes from the Abbott Point Coal Terminal were relatively stable in November at 2.23 million mt, which is up 6% from 2.11 million mt a year earlier and down 3% from 2.30 million mt in October, it said.
For January-November, the three terminals have exported a combined 121.79 million mt, which compares to the combined nameplate capacity of 190 million mt/year.