AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Coal boom can continue if infrastructure is built, says expert

<p>There can be a sustained boom in seaborne coal trade so long as infrastructure spending keeps up, leading coal analyst Jeff Watkins of Hill and Associates has told Coaltrans China 2005. </p> <p>But Mr Hill also suggested that Latin and Indonesia could add far larger tonnages than Australia in the period up to 2014, with Colombia and Venezuela able to add 60m tonnes, Indonesia 40m tonnes, and Australia just 25m tonnes. </p> <p>Pacific rim countries could increase demand by as much as 100m tonnes in the same period, he said. </p> <p>Much of the Latin American production will flow to the US as reserves in the eastern US run down. </p> <p>"A lot of infrastructure projects, both port and rail, will have to be overcome for these figures to come true," Mr Watkins said.</p> <p>The rail system in the eastern US is particularly fragmented, he said. </p> <p>Mining companies in north and central Queensland said this week that they could increase production by 80m tonnes to 215m tonnes if major port and rail upgrades were to go ahead.</p> <p>Ken Talbot, of Macarthur Coal, said 30m tonnes of the extra coal could come through expansion already underway at Gladstone, while the other 50m tonnes would come through upgrades of Abbot Point and Dalrymple Bay and improvements in the flexibility of rail links between them.</p> <br />