Long queues at port as demand for coal soars  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

There seem to be plenty of jitters about the Chinese economy, but for now it is sucking in coal rapidly - Long queues at port as demand for coal soars.

THE queue of ships at the world's biggest coal port, Newcastle, is near its longest level since before the financial crisis and waiting times are at a one-year record.

In a sign of the booming demand for coal, figures published this week show 58 ships were waiting on Monday, just shy of the pre-Christmas peak of 60, which was the longest queue since mid-2007.

Average waiting times for vessels at the port have also blown out to a fresh one-year high of 17.86 days, the Newcastle Port Corporation figures show.

The trend, mirrored at key ports around the country, points to the soaring demand from coal buyers in China and Europe, after severe winters caused a surge in demand for electricity.

Most of the coal shipped through Newcastle - used by Xstrata, Rio Tinto and Centennial Coal - is thermal coal used by power stations. Its price jumped to more than $US100 a tonne earlier this month amid subzero temperatures in key markets.

The growing queues are a positive sign for export industries, but they also highlight the increasing strain on port infrastructure as the global resources boom gathers pace.

This month Macarthur Coal announced a delay to its Middlemount expansion plan, after it was unable to secure access to third-party rail and water infrastructure.

Over-reliance on China is also seen as a risk for the industry. China has come to the rescue of coal exporters in the past year, but recent market fears that its economic growth could slow this year sent a shiver through share prices in the sector.

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