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Hunter coal network still clearing coal queues

<p>The ship queue off the coast of Newcastle is expected to push out to 41 vessels early next week as the Hunter Valley coal network continues working to clear a backlog caused by several factors, including severe weather earlier this month. </p> <p>Hunter Valley Coal Chain Logistics Team (HVCCLT) general manager Anthony Pitt said the network would lose between 500,000 and 600,000 tonnes in output this month due in part to unplanned outages and a high ship arrival rate.</p> <p>&#8220They’re turning up at a rate well in excess of system capacity and the production rate in the valley,&#8221 Mr Pitt said.</p> <p>&#8220It’s been complicated by the weather and some slightly worse than predicted reliability issues.&#8221</p> <p>There are now 34 vessels waiting off the coast of Newcastle, but the HVCCLT expects the queue to blow out to more than 40, before falling to about 30 by the middle of October.</p> <p>Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) projected figures indicate that the port could export just 5.3m tonnes this month, down from 6.8m tonnes in August.</p> <p>But Mr Pitt said the network was still on track to export about 6m tonnes this month.</p> <p>Scheduled network shutdowns due to maintenance last week would not affect declared capacity because they were factored in months ago, he said.</p> <p>Several upgrades should push the port’s coal capacity to 102m tonnes by the middle of next year, up from about 86m tonnes this year. </p> <p>HVCCLT chairman Graham Davidson told Informa Coal’s Gunnedah Basin Coal Conference last week that he did not expect all of this additional capacity to be needed next year.</p> <br />