AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Macarthur says QR providing insufficient coal capacity

<p>Queensland miner Macarthur Coal has backed claims that QR failed to deliver the contracted rate of coal to the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal (DBCT) in the first quarter of 2007.</p> <p>QR yesterday (Tuesday, May 1) attributed four-week delays at DBCT to supply chain issues that it could not control.</p> <p>But the rail provider has refused to provide details of the amount of coal it has moved so far this year and is no longer repeating its claim that it is hauling as much as the coal companies had contracted them to move.</p> <p>Macarthur Coal, which last month downgraded its 2006&#4707 production estimations by about 800,000 tonnes because of capacity constraints at DBCT, was sceptical of this.</p> <p>Macarthur Coal open cut development and infrastructure manager Michael Gray said that QR was not providing enough personnel or rolling stock for its Goonyella operations.</p> <p>Mr Gray told <em>Lloyd’s List DCN</em> that he did not know that it was &#8220exactly the case&#8221 that QR was hauling all the coal that was available. </p> <p>&#8220We’re ordering vessels for which there is entitlement available through the terminal, so I wouldn’t totally agree with QR’s position on that,&#8221 Mr Gray said.</p> <p>&#8220There is a big queue of vessels a significant majority of the vessels are live in as much as coal is available at mines for those vessels.</p> <p>&#8220It’s not a user issue.&#8221</p> <p>QR said yesterday that it was working to maximise the present assets in the system and that the last four weeks had seen near-record or record tonnages.</p> <p>But DBCT owners Babcock &#38 Brown Infrastructure (BBI) said it was providing 59mtpa of capacity at the terminal &#8211 about 8m tonnes more than the rail operator was delivering.</p> <p>DBCT said it had been operating with below-average port stockpiles because not enough coal was being delivered to the port.</p> <p>QR said it was simplistic to believe that only it had control over supply chain problems.</p> <p>But Mr Gray said he was unsure what other supply chain issues there could be that could limit the flow of coal between the mines and the coal terminal, other than issues within QR’s control.</p> <p>&#8220I don’t know what they’re getting at there,&#8221 Mr Gray said.</p> <p>&#8220At the end of the day, you would say that they don’t have sufficient crews or rolling stock to deliver the contracts.</p> <p>&#8220They’ll say that the contracts aren’t being operated as they were originally.</p> <p>&#8220They have got acquisition plans for rolling stock, but I think we still need to be convinced that those acquisitions will meet the capacity forecasts.&#8221</p> <p>Macarthur said that QR had improved its deliveries in April.</p> <p>The first quarter saw coal railed to the port at an annualised rate of 47.3m tonnes, well below the 56.5m tonnes allocated in the quota system.</p> <p>&#8220In the quarter, it’s pretty clear that there hasn’t been 51.5mtpa delivered,&#8221 Mr Gray said.</p> <p>&#8220[The supply chain&#93 performance did improve in April, but there was 2.4m tonnes lost in the first quarter that won’t come back, to the cost of all users and the state.&#8221</p> <p>DBCT is due to increase to about 85mtpa by 2008, which Mr Gray conceded was a concern for Macarthur given the belief that QR was struggling already.</p> <p>QR said that many of the present frustrations with the coal chain would be eased once track, locomotive and wagon investments are introduced in line with the DBCT expansion next year.</p> <br />