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Hunter miners continue dig for CBS resurrection

<p>Hunter Valley coal producers have agreed to form a working group to tackle the lengthy coal queue at the port of Newcastle, but Coal &#38 Allied has warned that any re-introduction of a capacity management system would need several years to have an effect.</p> <p>Coal producers and the network’s logistics team met yesterday (Tuesday, January 31) as part of their regular Capacity Management Forum after several days of speculation about a possible return to the now scrapped quarterly rationing system.</p> <p>C&#38A said it was time for a &#8220transparent demand management system&#8221, just a month after the previous system was axed following a vote in September.</p> <p>The Rio-Tinto-owned company had been one of the most vocal critics of the capacity system and rival coal miners said C&#38A had led the push to axe it.</p> <p>C&#38A said a new system would need years not weeks to work, and should be &#8220based on production, guaranteed rail capacity and port allocation&#8221.</p> <p>Some of the smaller miners called for greater flexibility this time after finding themselves out of pocket under the old arrangements when their production schedules did not match their rail and port times.</p> <p>The old system had typically benefited more established and reliable mines with a greater capacity to shift their allocated coal at the right time.</p> <p>C&#38A said a new system, which could take several months to agree on, needed &#8220at least two or three years&#8221 to work, ahead of investment in rail and port capacity. </p> <p>Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS), which manages the two coal terminals at the port, has previously said that there is enough annual capacity to meet demand.</p> <p>Expansion of the Kooragang Island terminal will push its capacity to 77mtpa from March, taking total coal capacity to 102mtpa.</p> <p>The network’s logistics team believe that above and below-rail capacity upgrades, which are to be rolled out by mid-year, should take the network’s capability well past projected demand.</p> <p>The network set a weekly coal shiploading record last week, at an annual rate of about 98m tonnes.</p> <p>The present queue of ships stands at 48, but is expected to increase to 55 within two weeks before easing again.</p> <br />